Facebook has patented software that will scan the social network for emerging terms and nicknames, then store them in a “social glossary.”
The patent, which was granted in February, is for a system that will examine posts and messages on the social network and look for something called neologisms. Put quite simply, they’re new pieces of language that are starting to be used by groups of people but aren’t yet in common use.
Grammar Monster lists some examples of neologisms as “oversharer,” “digital detox,” and “sick” as a positive adjective.
Facebook’s social glossary patent is for a system that will aim to catch those terms as they start to spread.
Here’s how Facebook outlines the process in its patent filing:
The system will spot terms, then double check that they’re not already in use. If it’s a new phrase that’s growing in popularity, then it add its to the company’s social glossary. It will also check that terms in the glossary are still current, and if they fall out of popularity then they will be removed.
Facebook says in the patent that the system will look out 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’s not completely clear what Facebook could use its social glossary for. One idea floated in the patent is for an improved predictive text program that includes slang terms that aren’t in the dictionary.
Facebook outlines a scenario in which the term “Rickrolled” is recognised by its social glossary. That’s the name for sending someone a video of the Rick Astley song “Never Gonna Give You Up” as a prank. Facebook says it could spot the term as it spreads and then collect different instances of the phenomenon.
Facebook was not immediately available to comment.