Nobody lols anymore, they “haha” and “hehe” instead. Facebook has completed a thorough check of the ways that people laugh on the internet, and has ruled the “Lol” dead. A range of different laughs have taken its place, varying greatly depending on age, gender and location.
The site took the posts of its users and organised these into four different forms: “haha”, “hehe”, “lol” and “emoji”. Those four groups included a wide range of different laughs — so “haha” includes “hahaha”, for instance. The site found that 51.4 per cent of the people who laughed use “haha”. Emoji was the second biggest way of communicating a laugh, at 33.7 per cent; “hehe” represented 13.1 per cent; and 1.9 per cent said “lol”.
The Facebook study followed an article in the New Yorker about the various ways that people laugh on the internet. Its author, Sarah Larson, asked friends and picked apart the different words and symbols that people use — but Facebook decided to do the same investigation using big data. The study found some counter-intuitive results. Larson said, for instance, that “hehe” was being forced upon older people “by the youth”.
But the Facebook findings showed that “haha” was still the most popular way of laughing across all groups. Emoji was more popular among young people, and “lol” was bigger among older Facebook users. The site also looked the lengths of each “haha” and “hehe”. Larson said the “the ‘ha’ is like a Lego, a building block, with which we can construct more elaborate hilarity”. It found that people tended to stick bits of “ha” and “he” together, with four and fix letters the most common in both “haha” and “hehe” forms. Generally, the use of each laugh didn’t vary between different groups as much as might be expected.
Both men and women had the same most common laugh — “haha” followed by emoji, for instance — though men liked “haha” more and women liked emoji. Geographically, people also tend to laugh the same way. But “emoji” is exceptionally popular in Chicago, for instance, where they also use “hehe,” a lot less than the population at large.
Facebook noted that it looked at posts and comments for the data and didn’t use Messenger, pointing out that people might write differently in private chats.
Facebook has used its huge troves of data on how people talk to try and understand a range of behaviour online — from finding that the site mostly tells people what they want to believe, through to a highly controversial study that manipulated users’ moods to see how happy and sad updates affected them.