ASL

In digital communication, ASL (sometimes written A/S/L, capitalized or lowercase, and with or without a question mark) is an abbreviation for age, sex, location. This term was originally used in chat rooms, instant messengers, or online video games to ask demographic information about a stranger quickly instead of typing out each question individually.

As ASL became a common conversation starter, users began responding in an identical format. A sample interaction might look like this:

  • surfergirl12: asl?
  • lotrlover1989: 16/m/nyc

In the 1990s and 2000s, chat platforms such as AIM did not support user profiles like modern messaging tools (Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Viber, etc.), so the only identifying information was a user s screen name. Sometimes, users would also include an r for race or p for picture or physical appearance although this could spark controversy about cyberstalking, racial profiling, or generally inappropriate online behavior.

The ASL question sometimes became an opening for catfishing situations, where a user poses as someone else and responds with misleading information. Even in contemporary online interactions, catfishing is still a risk that has dangerous real-world implications for human trafficking.

The rise of social media and video calling technology meant people no longer needed to ask the ASL question in most settings, but it still sometimes comes up in online multiplayer games like Minecraft or anonymous chat services like Omegle. Digital literacy and Internet safety education helps users (especially young people) avoid sharing sensitive information to potential predators.

Webopedia Staff
Since 1995, more than 100 tech experts and researchers have kept Webopedia’s definitions, articles, and study guides up to date. For more information on current editorial staff, please visit our About page.

Top Articles

List of Windows Operating System Versions & History [In Order]

The Windows operating system (Windows OS) refers to a family of operating systems developed by Microsoft Corporation. We look at the history of Windows...

How to Create a Website Shortcut on Your Desktop

Website Shortcut on Your Desktop reviewed by Web Webster   This Webopedia guide will show you how to create a website shortcut on your desktop using...

What are the Five Generations of Computers? (1st to 5th)

Reviewed by Web Webster Learn about each of the 5 generations of computers and major technology developments that have led to the computing devices that...

Hotmail [Outlook] Email Accounts

Launched in 1996, Hotmail was one of the first public webmail services that could be accessed from any web browser. At its peak in...

Network Monitoring Software

Network monitoring software is an application that observes traffic and device...

New Promoter Score (NPS)

Source: Freepik for flaticon.com Net promoter...

Data Annotation

Data annotation involves processing a set of raw data for text, images, sounds,...