The FBI cares what you have to say on Twitter. It cares so much that it created an 83-page document about “Twitter Shorthand”. The guide includes 2800 entries that basically amount to every acronym known to man — along with quite a few that I didn’t even know existed.
Here’s one: WYLABOCTGWTR. That string of characters evidently means, “Would you like a bowl of cream to go with that remark?” Well, that’s a weird phrase I’ve never heard before. But it must exist if it’s in the FBI’s guide to Twitter slang!
I’m getting ahead of myself, though. There is a purpose to this guide and it’s printed at the top of every page. “With the advent of Twitter and other social media on the Internet, the use of shorthand and acronyms has exploded,” reads the introduction. “This list has about 2800 entries you should find useful in your work or for keeping up with your children and/or grandchildren.” Or, presumably, catching criminals.
The guide is easy to use: It’s just a list of acronyms or slang terms and their definitions posted somewhere on the FBI’s secure intranet. The transparency-loving website MuckRock managed to get ahold of it thanks to a FOIA request and some patience. The FBI describes the list as “extensive — but far from exhaustive” and says it applies to “Twitter as well as other social media venues such as instant messages, Facebook and Myspace.” Yes, Myspace.
Now, about those 2800 entries. Old people will appreciate the clarity of some otherwise perplexing acronyms. But all people will be perplexed by a few of the acronyms. Let’s take a look.
BTW – by the way
This is a good one! Kids use it gracefully, and they use it often. It’s definitely a must for fighting crime.
BTWITIAILWU or BTWITIAILWY – by the way, I think I’m in love with you
Huh? First of all, that’s a lot of letters for an acronym. At a certain point, they just blur together and make your brain bleed. Second, who the heck confesses their love for someone with an obscure acronym on social media? Come to think of it, a surprising number of people probably do.
BTDTGTTSAWIO – been there, done that, got the T-shirt and wore it out
We haven’t even gotten out of the B’s yet.
C – see
Is it art?
GAMMD – go ahead, make my day
Ahhh, now we’re getting into the criminal talk. Maybe that’s why some of these acronyms are obscure. Would be felons want to act tough but avoid red flags. At first glance, GAMMD looks less like a threat and more like a nickname for your grandmother.
ILYAAM – I love you as a mate
This is confusing. Does it mean mate, like someone who you produce offspring with? Or mate, like what British people call their friends? If so, why is the FBI going after British people? Also, why does the guide have 23 different ways of saying “I love you?” These must be some very affectionate criminals they’re chasing.
N1 – nice one
I’ve never seen this one before, but I’m definitely going to start using it. N1, FBI!
PMYMHMMFSWGAD – pardon me, you must have mistaken me for someone who gives a damn
This is getting ridiculous.
ROFLMAOPMP or ROFLMAOWPIMP – rolling on the floor laughing my a** off (while) peeing (in) my pants
Like, really ridiculous.
RTD – ready to drink
After trying to figure out this guide, I am too!
S4S – support for support (mutual support of Myspace pages)
The whole document is more fun if you drink every time you see a Myspace mention.
STA – surveillance and target acquisition
Last time I checked, this was a convenient and helpful travel agency for students. We are talking about the FBI here, though, so I guess some tactical knowledge is required.
TWEETUP – an in-person meeting of Twitter members
Hey it’s a slang word! You’d never know it by the use of all-caps, but whatever. Also, the inclusion of this word makes me wonder whether a tweetup is a good place to meet a serial killer.
W4W – whore for whore (mutual support of Myspace pages)
YOLO – you only live once
Now that the FBI has conquered Twitter, its analysts can move onto new challenges like explaining Tumblr and GIFs. Here’s a suggestion for its first entry: