Internet Slang, According to the FBI

If you're worried about the government monitoring your online activity, never fear; there's a decent chance they have no idea what you're saying. The FBI's "Twitter Slang" glossary, an 83-page document, comes after a request under the Freedom of Information Act, and it turns out that the FBI really has no idea what they're talking about when it comes to...well, what people on the Internet are talking about. Those poor olds, always trying to understand the Internet.

The glossary bills itself as a list of "Twitter shorthand" but seems to really be meant for understanding general Internet speak, claiming it can help agents in their work as well as letting them "[keep] up with [their] children and/or grandchildren” on Twitter as well as "other social media venues such as instant messages, Facebook and Myspace.” Myspace, you say? Oh, sweeties.

The glossary does get some things right, correctly labeling "crunk" as "crazy and drunk" and "n00b" as "newbie," it also spends a lot of time on acronyms that have literally never been typed into Twitter prior to the release of this document. But hey, maybe you use PMFJIB (pardon me for jumping in but) all the time in your daily online life. Or, you know, not.

More than anything, though, this list proves that the FBI has no idea what Urban Dictionary is. Because yes, on the one hand Urban Dictionary is a radical and subversive way of democratizing language and all that good stuff, but it's also a website where the young'uns of the Internet have been kind enough to explain to you exactly what they mean when they say "deepfave" and "screwvenir" and just about everything else. (Urban Dictionary, BTW, has no idea what PMFJIB means).

Does anyone else get the idea someone at the FBI was just making shit up? Most of these have been typed into Twitter fewer than 100 times in Twitter's eight year history, and for many, Urban Dictionary either disagrees with the FBI's primary definition or has no idea what the FBI is talking about. And neither does anybody else.

While it's obviously important for the FBI to be able to understand what people on the Internet are saying, a glossary might not have been the best idea to begin with. Because FYI, FBI: Internet slang is fluid and ever changing. Trying to pin in down in a glossary is not the most helpful way to go. And making a big deal out of ridiculously long acronyms that are clearly never going to catch on is just going to make us ROFL. (Go look it up, guys).

Then again, I'd guess the agents that actually investigate cybercrime have a better handle on Internet speak than this. These are the people who busted Silk Road after all. But for those FBI agents who don't understand slang, you might want to look into some unofficial sources, because this glossary is not doing you any favors.