Fact Check

Did the FBI Compile an 83-Page Guide to Internet Slang?

Even the FBI needs help decrypting what the youth are saying.

Published Apr 21, 2022

 (© User:Colin/Wikimedia Commons)
Image Via © User:Colin/Wikimedia Commons
Claim:
The FBI compiled an internal 83-page document on internet slang that they released in 2014.

Fact Check

Even the FBI needs help with internet lingo, as evidenced by an 83-page internal document they released in 2014 thanks to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. The document reentered the internet's consciousness via recent reporting on it from Input and The Verge.

The document, available on archive.org, has a long list of terms one would normally encounter on the internet and in text messages, ranging from LMAO (laughing my ass off) to IITYWTMWYKM (if I tell you what this means will you kiss me). 

The document includes a “Twitter Shorthand” section that has 2,800 entries and states: 

With the advent of Twitter and other social media venues on the Internet, the use of shorthand and acronyms has exploded. The DFs Intelligence Research Support Unit (IRSU) has put together an extensive - but far from exhaustive - list of shorthand and acronyms used in Twitter and other social media venues such as instant messages, Facebook and MySpace,

This list has about 2,800 entries you should find useful in your work or for keeping up with your children and/or grandchildren. We’ll continue to update/expand this list. If you have some suggestions for additions, feel free to add a new entry by clicking on the "New" tab below.

Some other slang terms that stand out are NIFOC (naked in front of computer), WOS (waste of space/wife over shoulder), and H9 (really hate - H8+1). 

The FOIA request was filed through MuckRock, an organization that helps the public acquire data from the government. The Verge reported on this back in 2014 when MuckRock released all of its communications with the FBI.

This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act. I hereby request the following records:

A copy of all records or documentation available to FBI agents or other FBI personnel or contractors which provides information on how to interpret or understand so-called "leetspeak." Leetspeak (or leet or 1337, etc.) is a obfuscated form of communication where letters are replaced with numbers or symbols or unusual spellings or abbreviations are used, or a combination of these aspects. This communication is popular among hackers and may be available to computer crimes investigators or used in training them to help them read or understand communication between computer hackers.

Please include all types of these records, including but not limited to memos, manuals, PowerPoint presentations, training materials, emails, etc.

The full document is here for your perusal.

Sources:

Federal Bureau of Investigation. "FBI Guide to Internet Slang." Internet Archive, https://archive.org/details/FBIGuideToInternetSlang. Accessed 21 Apr. 2022.

Khaw, Cassandra. “The FBI Is Hip to Your Internet Slang.” The Verge, 18 June 2014, https://www.theverge.com/2014/6/18/5819892/fbi-internet-slang-list. Accessed 21 Apr. 2022.

“Leet Speak (FBI).” MuckRock, https://www.muckrock.com/foi/united-states-of-america-10/leet-speak-fbi-10154/. Accessed 21 Apr. 2022.

Rauwerda, Annie. “The FBI’s 83-Page Guide to Internet Slang Is an Absolute Rollercoaster.” Input, https://www.inputmag.com/culture/fbi-guide-to-internet-slang. Accessed 21 Apr. 2022.

Roth, Emma. “Today I Learned That the FBI Has an 83-Page Guide to Internet Speak.” The Verge, 18 Apr. 2022, https://www.theverge.com/2022/4/18/23030750/fbi-83-page-guide-internet-speak. Accessed 21 Apr. 2022.

Nur Nasreen Ibrahim is a reporter with experience working in television, international news coverage, fact checking, and creative writing.

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