Singular "they" on Facebook

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Sat Aug 10 14:26:56 UTC 2013

On Sat, Aug 10, 2013 at 7:19 AM, Dave Wilton wrote:
> My apologies if this has been mentioned before...
> I've noticed that Facebook, and probably other social media applications,
> uses the singular "they" when the person's sex has not been indicated. As in
> "Jane Doe changed their profile picture." The software will use "his" or
> "her" when the person has indicated their sex in the profile. If one does
> not do so, then it uses "they."
> Just another example of the usage spreading.

Facebook's singular "their" was noted on Language Log back in 2007:

A year later, there were indications that the usage was going to be
phased out, but that evidently did not come to pass:


Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

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