The glossary was recently made public through a Freedom of Information request by the group MuckRock, which posted the PDF, called “Twitter shorthand,” online. Despite its name, this isn’t just Twitter slang: As the FBI’s Intelligence Research Support Unit explains in the introduction, it’s a primer on shorthand used across the Internet, including in “instant messages, Facebook and Myspace.” As if that Myspace reference wasn’t proof enough that the FBI’s a tad out of touch, the IRSU then promises the list will prove useful both professionally and “for keeping up with your children and/or grandchildren.” (Your tax dollars at work!)
All of these minor gaffes could be forgiven, however, if the glossary itself was actually good. Obviously, FBI operatives and researchers need to understand Internet slang — the Internet is, increasingly, where crime goes down these days. But then we get things like ALOTBSOL (“always look on the bright side of life”) and AMOG (“alpha male of group”) … within the first 10 entries.
ALOTBSOL has, for the record, been tweeted fewer than 500 times in the entire eight-year history of Twitter. AMOG has been tweeted far more often, but usually in Spanish … as a misspelling, it would appear, of “amor” and “amigo.”
Among the other head-scratching terms the FBI considers can’t-miss Internet slang:
- AYFKMWTS (“are you f—— kidding me with this s—?”) — 990 tweets
- BFFLTDDUP (“best friends for life until death do us part) — 414 tweets
- BOGSAT (“bunch of guys sitting around talking”) — 144 tweets
- BTDTGTTSAWIO (“been there, done that, got the T-shirt and wore it out”) — 47 tweets
- BTWITIAILWY (“by the way, I think I am in love with you”) — 535 tweets
- DILLIGAD (“does it look like I give a damn?”) — 289 tweets
- DITYID (“did I tell you I’m depressed?”) — 69 tweets
- E2EG (“ear-to-ear grin”) — 125 tweets
- GIWIST (“gee, I wish I said that”) — 56 tweets
- HCDAJFU (“he could do a job for us”) — 25 tweets
- IAWTCSM (“I agree with this comment so much”) — 20 tweets
- IITYWIMWYBMAD (“if I tell you what it means will you buy me a drink?”) — 250 tweets
- LLTA (“lots and lots of thunderous applause”) — 855 tweets
- NIFOC (“naked in front of computer”) — 1,065 tweets, most of them referring to acronym guides like this one.
- PMYMHMMFSWGAD (“pardon me, you must have mistaken me for someone who gives a damn”) — 128 tweets
- SOMSW (“someone over my shoulder watching) — 170 tweets
- WAPCE (“women are pure concentrated evil”) — 233 tweets, few relating to women
- YKWRGMG (“you know what really grinds my gears?”) — 1,204 tweets
In all fairness to the FBI, they do get some things right: “crunk” is helpfully defined as “crazy and drunk,” FF is “a recommendation to follow someone referenced in the tweet,” and a whole range of online patois is translated to its proper English equivalent: hafta is “have to,” ima is “I’m going to,” kewt is “cute.”
One would hope the people tasked with investigating federal crimes could decipher that kind of thing through context clues … but the Internet is a vast, dizzying place! And both the law and law enforcement, as many, many recent cases have attested, lag painfully behind technology and technology culture — to the detriment of people in those spaces who need help.
So while I might wanna (want to) LMSO (laugh my socks off) over this glossary, it’s actually kind of serious, when you TOTT (think on these things).