If you still "lol" at jokes online then you might be in the minority. A new report from Facebook into how users express laughter shows that "haha" and its variants are by far the most common terms used on the social network.
They accounted for 51.4 percent of mirth in the anonymized comments and posts looked at by Facebook's data team, with laughter emoji claiming 33.7 percent, and "hehe" and its cognates 13.1 percent. The once-mighty "lol" only appeared in 1.9 percent of the text sampled by Facebook — a pretty staggering fall for an expression that was once synonymous with online txt speak.
Although not surprising for such a venerable term, "lol" proved slightly more popular with older users. Differences between generations were not heavily pronounced, but it was emoji that were most popular with users with the youngest median age, while "haha," "hehe," and "lol" were favored by progressively older individuals. The data also showed that emoji were more popular among female users, with "haha" showing a small male bias, and "hehe" distributed nearly evenly among the genders. Not many people were regular chortlers though: in the week's worth of data Facebook looked at, 46 percent of those that laughed in the seven days did so only once, with the vast majority — 85 percent — laughing fewer than five times.
Facebook's data team also examined how users deployed variants of these laughter terms, looking at whether they hehe'd more than they hehehehe'd, for example. An article in The New Yorker that inspired Facebook's analysis suggested that we use "ha"s and "he"s as building blocks, adding up these lexical units to convey everything from polite recognition ("ha") to no-really-I'm-going-a-bit-mad-with-laughter ("hahahahahahahaha"). Although interpretation of these different strings can be quite subjective, Facebook's data showed that even letter counts were more common than odd ones, suggesting that we do indeed stack up these two-letter phonemes like Lego bricks.