Haha more popular than LOL, according to Facebook

Haha, hehe, LOL? New Facebook study reveals how "e-laughter" is evolving.

Haha, hehe, LOL? New Facebook study reveals how 'e-laughter' is evolving

A Facebook study reveals that Unicode's 'Face with Tears of Joy emoji,' popularly known as the 'LOL emoji,' is now more popular than the text-based term 'LOL' when it comes to expressing laughter online. (David Parry/PA Wire)

Hehehe, LOL, *snorts*, XD, or a laughing tears emoji …

From reaction GIFs to YouTube clips, there are more ways to laugh online than there are in real life for the average conversationalist.

Like language itself, however, "e-laughter" is diverse and ever-shifting — so much so that it can be confusing (if not downright embarrassing) among those who don't understand its nuances.

Which way is the "right" way to show appreciation for a joke on Twitter? To laugh off an awkward G-Chat conversation? To type out a flirty text message giggle?

Contrary to what IRC-dwellers of the 1990s (and parent-focused "internet slang" guides of the 2010s) might tell you, it's not "LOL" — at least not anymore.

According to the results of a recent Facebook study, "haha" is now the preferred signifier of laughter among the social network's 1.49 billion monthly active users — and by a wide margin.

To compile their report, called The Not-So-Universal Language of Laughter, data scientists from Facebook analyzed "de-identified posts and comments" containing strings of characters identified as text-based laughter throughout the last week May. 

"Roughly 15 per cent of the people who posted or commented during that week used at least one e-laugh," reads the report. "For those people that laughed, we analyzed how many times they laughed … around 46 per cent of the people posted only a single laugh during the week, and 85 per cent posted fewer than five laughs."

The researchers also noted that 52 per cent of those who laughed used only one single type of laugh throughout the week, while roughly 20 per cent used two different types of e-laughter.

Among all of the users in Facebook's dataset, a full 51.4 per cent chose "haha" and its derivatives (which include "hahaha," and "haahhhaa") to laugh.

Emojis were the second-most popular way to laugh online, with 33.7 per cent of the users studied choosing the pictographic icons, and "hehe" was preferred by another 12.7 per cent.

As for LOL? The one-time juggernaut of internet humour made up only 1.9 per cent of all e-laughter analyzed.

Some on Twitter have reacted to the news with mild outrage, suggesting that surely the LOL-shunners are kids while lamenting their lost youth.

A breakdown of Facebook's data by age, gender and geographic location suggests the opposite, however, by showing that "haha" is still the most common type of e-laughter across all age groups, from 13-70.

Both men and women were found to like "haha" and emojis best, though women do show a stronger preference for the latter than men.

In terms of e-laughter habits across the U.S., "haha" and "hehe" were found to be more prevalent on the West Coast and emojis did well in the Midwest.

A heat map compiled by Facebook shows that if "LOL" has any chance of a resurgence among its American users, it'll happen in the South.