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Taylor Lorenz, "Internet ‘algospeak’ is changing our language in real time, from ‘nip nops’ to ‘le dollar bean’", WaPo 4/8/2022:

“Algospeak” is becoming increasingly common across the Internet as people seek to bypass content moderation filters on social media platforms such as TikTok, YouTube, Instagram and Twitch.

Algospeak refers to code words or turns of phrase users have adopted in an effort to create a brand-safe lexicon that will avoid getting their posts removed or down-ranked by content moderation systems. For instance, in many online videos, it’s common to say “unalive” rather than “dead,” “SA” instead of “sexual assault,” or “spicy eggplant” instead of “vibrator.”

As the pandemic pushed more people to communicate and express themselves online, algorithmic content moderation systems have had an unprecedented impact on the words we choose, particularly on TikTok, and given rise to a new form of internet-driven Aesopian language.

The posts in our Censorship category have been mostly about the Chinese internet, so it's fair for English-language social media to get a look.

Of course, the non-algorithmic policies and practices of mainstream media have gotten their share of attention, e.g.

"Presidential expletive watch", 7/17/2006
"Taking shit from the president", 7/19/2006
"Taking no shit from judges", 6/5/2007
"The first 'asshole' in the Times?", 4/16/2012
"Not taking shit from the president", 6/1/2014
"Taking shit from the chancellor", 12/7/2018


  1. BillR said,

    April 11, 2022 @ 11:57 am

    Reminds me of Cockney rhyming slang.

  2. The Editor's Apprentice said,

    April 17, 2022 @ 5:30 pm

    Sounds like a new generation of leetspeak is being born!

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