Do you speak Algospeak, the language of social media?


On social media, people sometimes use an emoji to replace a word that could attract the attention of moderators. — Photography da-kuk/Getty Images/AFP Relaxnews

Algospeak is a term that refers to a trend that has taken hold on social networks. In order to avoid having content deleted by moderators, internet users have invented their own coded language to slip through the net.

This phenomenon is everywhere on social networks. To avoid seeing comments or videos deleted from social platforms, users have been clever enough to invent their own language. The method is simple: just replace a word, which can be detected by a platform's moderation system, by another completely different word, an emoji, or with a deliberately misspelled version of the word. And that's what's known as Algospeak.

This technique has been used on a global scale, especially after the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade legislation, leading to the restriction of abortion rights in some US states. For fear of having their social media accounts banned, some users simply talked about camping as a coded way of offering assistance to pregnant women seeking abortions out of state.

In addition to hijacking words for the purpose of solidarity, internet users have long been replacing certain sensitive words to avoid having content censored. This is notably the case of words like "suicide" or "sex," commonly replaced by the expression "withdraw your life" or the deliberate misspelling "seggs."

The trick is also sometimes used for fun. In 2021, TikTokers decided to replace the laughter emoji with the chair emoji, creating an in-joke among young internet users.

But Algospeak can also be used to share controversial ideas and banned content on social networks. Antivaxxers recently used the carrot emoji to denote the word "vaccine" when sharing unverified claims about side effects of the Covid-19 vaccine.

And, in 2021, transphobic users used the black and orange square emojis to draw the acronym "SS", the abbreviation for "Super Straight," openly displaying their transphobia on TikTok. – AFP Relaxnews

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