Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

"Hit Me Up" Was Facebook's Breakout Slang in 2010

I suppose I’m a sucker for year-end trend lists, given I’ve written up reports about trends from YouTube, Twitter and Google in just the last few days. In short: Bieber, Bieber, Bieber.

Next up is Facebook, which offers aggregated data about trends in the status updates posted by its members, including their activity around major news events and their usage of slang.

The best anecdote from the bit is about a newly popular acronym on Facebook, “HMU.” This comes after Facebook noted in 2009 the growth of the trendy whine “FML. (Explanation: We’ll leave the “F” open to your imagination, but the “ML” stand for “My Life.”) Here’s the whole explanation of HMU by Facebook data scientist Lars Backstrom:

The shorthand for “hit me up” was this year’s biggest surprise. In early 2009, the acronym HMU was virtually unheard of. Only a few posts a day contained HMU, and half of them were probably typos. By May, however, it started to grow slowly and was averaging about 20 posts a day. The volume roughly doubled every month, and by the end of 2009 it had risen to 1,600 posts a day–too modest of a number to be on our radar for last year’s list.

However, HMU continued to grow aggressively throughout 2010, increasing by about 75 percent each month. By the end of summer, HMU reached 80,000 mentions per day.

In early September, an interesting pattern emerged in how people use HMU. Until that point, it was spreading like wildfire, but was being used with roughly equal frequency throughout the week. In September this changed, as usage rates started going through huge swings from day to day. The reason? Before September the demographic most likely to ask their friends to “HMU” was on summer break and looking to hang out most nights. Then many of these folks headed back to school, and HMU became a weekend-oriented request.

Some notable stats from the Facebook 2010 roundup:

  • At key moments in certain games during the World Cup, as many as 50 percent of all new status updates were World Cup-related.
  • “Toy Story 3” was the movie most mentioned in status updates, followed by “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse,” “Inception,” “Alice in Wonderland” and “Iron Man 2.”
  • Mentions of the iPad and iPhone 4 accounted for 25 million total Facebook status updates. (I’m not sure what the total number of status updates for the year was.)
  • A day after the Haiti earthquake Facebook was receiving 1,800 posts per minute on the topic.
  • Yes, Bieber. People talked about the teenage pop star throughout the year, but the single greatest statused-about Bieber moment was the MTV Video Music Awards.
  • Facebook could identify 33 separate activity spikes for when each of the Chilean miners was rescued.

Please see the disclosure about Facebook in my ethics statement.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik