Want to keep up with the kids? Facebook has patented software to spot new slang terms before they become popular. The patent – first spotted by Business Insider – was granted in February and outlines a system that would examine posts and other messages on the network.


It would look for neologisms – new words and terms which are beginning to enter common use, but are not yet mainstream.

There are a number of steps Facebook’s algorithm will go through to determine these words.

First off, it will look for terms it hasn’t seen before, then determine that they do not have a known meaning.

It then attempts to determine what the terms mean, before adding them to its glossary.

A place in the site’s glossary is not permanent – if they fall out of usage over time they will be removed.

Facebook’s filing says the software will look for “slang, terms of art, portmanteaus, syllabic abbreviations, abbreviations, acronyms, names, nicknames, re-purposed words or phrases, or any other type of coined word or phrase”.

It is unclear for what purpose Facebook would use the glossary of slang.

It could, for example, power a predictive text system which includes words which are not yet in the dictionary.