Facebook Can Determine How Old You Are Based Just On How You Laugh

The way you laugh online says a lot about your age.

woman laughing with hand on face Mark Nazh / Shutterstock

Inspired by an article in The New Yorker, in 2015, Facebook did a study on the evolution of e-laughing.

They must have had some time on their hands since you can only mess up the layout of people's pages so often. (I'm still not used to the new look, and I'm definitely not interested in what I was posting a year ago.)

Facebook analyzed de-identified posts and comments posted on Facebook during the last week of May 2015, with at least one string of characters matching laughter. These expressions included haha, hehe, emojis, and LOL. 


Facebook can determine how old you are based just on how you laugh

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But they didn't look at direct messages through Messenger at all. They focused only on English laughter and emojis found in direct Facebook feeds.


Apparently, it's pretty common to laugh online and we all attach these expressions of laughter to almost everything we post.

Fifteen percent of the people who posted or commented that week included one e-laugh, written as LOL, haha, hehe, and/or used emojis. Researchers then took that 15 percent and broke it down even further.

They found that 46 percent of people posted just a single laugh during the week, while 85 percent posted less than five laughs per week.

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And what was the most popular e-laugh? It was haha, followed by various laughing emojis and the hehe.

But there are different reasons why someone uses a specific laugh on Facebook. Age, gender, and geographic location all influence what type of laugh people use while commenting on social media, and these also factor into the length of each e-laugh.


Young people and women prefer emojis, whereas men prefer longer hehes (see, size does matter). People in major cities such as Chicago and New York prefer emojis, while Seattle and San Francisco prefer haha.

Facebook researchers split the laughers into four groups: people who used haha, people who used LOL, people who used hehe, and the emoji people.

Haha was the most popular with 51.4 percent of the group, followed by the emoji users with 33.7 percent, and in third place was the hehe folks with 13.1 percent. Lastly, at a low 1.9 percent were the LOL users. 

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LOL, oh how you have fallen.

If you weren't already striking LOL from your usage, Facebook research found that younger Facebook users were more likely to use emojis, while LOLs were used by the older generation.


So, unless you want to look like you're 1,001 years old, I suggest forgetting you ever laughed out loud (LOL), laughed your a** off (LMAO), or rolled on the floor laughing (ROFL).

Now that's funny. Haha.

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Christine Schoenwald is a writer, performer, and frequent contributor to YourTango. She's had articles featured in The Los Angeles Times, Salon, Bustle, Medium, Huffington Post, Business Insider, and Woman's Day, among many others.