FarmVille… My Life: The Top 15 Facebook Status Update Terms of 2009

Some 35 million Facebook users update their status every day, or around ten percent of the service’s 350 million monthly active users. Meanwhile, the service has grown by 200 million new people in the past year; the US alone now has nearly 100 million, including many of the parents and grandparents of the service’s original college users.

So, Facebook today released an internal study of the top status update terms of the past year — and it’s worth a closer look, because the data says something about what’s going on in the country (or at least the third of it on the site). If you want to get a better understanding of Facebook’s methodology, read the company’s post, here.

15. From “is” to “I”

“I” just made it on because Facebook changed its status update box terminology in March: It used to show the user’s name, then the word “is” and space to enter a message. An interface change took the “is” out and, as the company shows, “usage of ‘I’ doubled almost overnight.”

14. Faith

The last year has seen dramatic increases for “Lord,””God,” and “Easter” with the last term rising by nearly 30% from 2008 to 2009. The increases, in total, came in around 50% year over year — maybe the country is becoming more religious, although the broader demographics are probably contributing to the increase.

13. The “yard,” sort of like playing FarmVille

A lot of Facebook users spent time in their yards this past spring — significantly more so than in past years. This is likely due to older people with greener thumbs talking about doing yard work on Facebook.

12. “Lady Gaga”

The pop singer got big this past year, especially driven by her performance at the MTV music Awards, as well as a Christopher Walken “performance” of one of her songs, according to the data.

11. This year and next year

New Years, 2009, was a big day for “2009” and the number “2010” is looking forward to being an even bigger hit in a couple weeks.

10. Twitter

Facebook redesigned its home page in March to be more like microblogging service Twitter — but by April, from what the company has now revealed, Facebook had seen “mentions of Twitter” fall off “a bit.”

Aside: One has to wonder how this data affected Facebook’s subsequent plans for its product, like the algorithmic news feed it introduced this past fall.

However, the Twitter-based term “RT” (short for “retweet”) has continued to grow, at least on Facebook. It is now, according to Facebok, “a common acronym for any sort of reposting, not just on Twitter, and it has remained high as many Facebook users now use “RT” when they repost something.” We’ll see how the term “RP” does next year.

9. Let’s be friends on FB

Abbreviations are big on Facebook, just like they are on Twitter, instant message services, SMS, and other short-form digital communication services. So it’s fitting that both “FB and “FB Friends” have gotten big, with the former growing by 20 times and the latter growing 100 times since the beginning of 2008.

8. The politics of “Health Care”

Mentions of the term are up by 10 times over the past year, with an especially notable rise as a result of millions of health care reform advocates posting an identical political message as status updates.

7. Sports, and their champions

The Steelers won the Super Bowl last February then the Yankees won the World Series this past October. Unsurprisingly, given that the Super Bowl happens in one evening and the World Series is a multi-day event, the former team saw a briefer, bigger spike and the latter saw a lower, broader increase in status updates.

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