Online lingo and abbreviations are somewhat equatable to a Petri dish, in that if you leave it alone overnight, it may look entirely different the next morning. Such was the case when “DP” was replaced with a more accurate term within WhatsApp, but we’re here to break down the abbreviation for you and talk a little bit about how it’s changed in the popular messaging service.
WhatsApp has had a storied history, to be sure. It’s locomoted its way from tiny startup to a service that hosts over one billion registered profiles, and is now owned by the largest social media entity–and maybe one of the largest online entities–in the world. In spite of a huge transition, WhatsApp itself hasn’t changed too much over the years, either in its mission or its minimalistic, pleasing aesthetic. It’s added the necessary features to stay relevant amongst its competition, and as I write this, the WhatsApp development team is working hard to implement video calling–a long-demanded tool that almost all of WhatsApp’s competitors have fully embraced, since FaceTime started touting it years ago.
This consistency is part of what has kept WhatsApp popular, and coupled with the app’s constant accessibility–it’s free to download, free to use, and uses your mobile device’s contacts–it’s easy to see why people are still getting on board with it over competition like Facebook Messenger, imo Messenger, or Kik. Still, there are occasionally a few “antiquated” terms that come along with using WhatsApp, all of which we can break down into more relatable words.
Similar to the above analogy, the abbreviations, slang, and lingo that come hand-in-hand with online communication can change overnight, which can sometimes be confusing for those who aren’t internet savvy. Most of the time, this occurs in the communication between two people, rather than the terms used by any app itself, but “DP” has been a longstanding point of reference in WhatsApp, alongside DL and TOS.
Common WhatsApp Lingo – What It Means, and How to Use It
Normally, getting accustomed to common phrases used in online communication wouldn’t be much of a hassle; just like learning anything else, immersion will help a person to adjust before they know it. When it’s a term used by the app itself, however, it becomes necessary to decipher the meaning in order to properly use the app. Though instances of this happening are few and far between, we’ll use the remainder of this guide to break down some common terms that are either obscure or just aren’t used often enough to properly recognize any longer.
DP – Display Picture
The first of these and the namesake of this article is “DP.” It doesn’t really have any equivalent way to mistake it or misunderstand it; rather, it’s simply not used anymore, and it’s certainly not prevalent among social media or messaging applications.
What it once stood for is “display picture,” which used to be the common way to refer to what we’ve come to know as the “profile picture.” As long as you know what a profile picture is, you can use the two terms interchangeably. Do so only at the risk of confusing others, however, since it’s a rarely used term!
Your display picture (or profile picture) in WhatsApp is the small icon that allows your contacts to have some visual identification of you. Unlike many other aspects of the app that are determined by what exists in your mobile device’s contacts, your profile picture can be changed at any time. You can also adjust your privacy settings to control who is able to see your profile picture, and who isn’t.
If you want to change your profile picture…
- Tap the Menu button, followed by Settings.
- Look for your current Profile Picture and tap it, followed by the Camera icon.
- You can choose a new profile picture from your device’s gallery or camera roll.
If you want to prevent someone from seeing your profile picture, you’ll have to block these contacts individually. This will prevent them from seeing your profile picture as well as contacting you.
Additionally, if you want to change your Display Name within WhatsApp, you can tap on it from the same screen that you used to select your profile picture.
DL – Dead Link
This term often throws people for a loop purely because of the fact that the abbreviation is still in use, but ironically, is used to define almost the exact opposite of what it used to. What most people now assume when they see “DL” is “download,” but it once was a common abbreviation for “dead link.” It’s still used in this context occasionally, albeit rarely considering how prolific it’s come to refer to its new meaning.
A “dead link” is exactly what you might imagine; the definition is in the title. When you click on a link and it leads to an inactive or broken website–or occasionally, no website at all–this is what’s referred to as a dead link. As link-sharing became more frequent in instant messaging apps like WhatsApp, the abbreviation became an active way to refer to links that didn’t work.
However, that tendency has faded, and it now can be interpreted as “download” almost all of the time. So often, in fact, that it’s been years since I’ve heard anyone use “DL” to refer to a dead link.
TOS – Terms of Service
Here’s a term that’s actually still relevant, and hasn’t changed in meaning, use, or definition throughout any of its use. Instead, many users simply overlook what “Terms of Service” are, and when they encounter them, they’re usually presented as a massive wall of legal text that’s ignored in lieu of the “Accept” button at the bottom of the page.
If that’s familiar to you, then you’re familiar with Terms of Service.
While most users are never required to care about the specificity of any app or software’s terms of service, this document is usually drawn up to ensure that the app’s developers and distributors have safeguards in place to ensure that their work is used properly. The Terms of Service explain the grounds upon which a person can use a given piece of software and often outlines the scenarios that would constitute a violation of those rules.
With an online application, violating the Terms of Service can result in termination of your account. This sounds like a severe thing, but rest assured; most apps are designed from the ground up to keep users safe from such violations, leaving the ToS in place to prevent hackers and exploiters from using the app or software maliciously.
PM – Private Message
This term is sometimes used, and sometimes isn’t. In many applications, the abbreviation “PM,” for “private message,” is being replaced by “DM,” which stands for “direct message.” Though this was once only prevalent among messaging apps, specifically, the growth and rising popularity of messaging apps have resulted in DM being a more widespread term, forcing PM to the side.
While WhatsApp is a more throughput messaging service–that is its primary purpose–other social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook offer messaging services apart from the media feeds that make up their main functions. It’s on these apps that “direct message” has become such a common way to refer to a single message that’s sent to a single person. Technically, WhatsApp and other dedicated messaging apps are always sending direct messages, but the masses that define popular terminology online aren’t always going to bend to logic.
Really, either is applicable, and you’ll be safe using whichever you want in most settings–they’re both still well-understood. However, like any trend in the wide world of the internet, don’t be surprised to wake up one day and discover that one or the other of these terms has somehow fallen out of use.
This could easily become a list of dozens of different abbreviations and terms, but the above four are definitely among those that confused users ask about the most often. As stated before, popular lingo used by other people in chats is more easily clarified, while those terms that are used by an app itself can sometimes be quite frustrating. Keeping up with the times online is a chore in and of itself, which makes us all the happier to provide a little bit of explanation where it’s sorely needed.
Longtime WhatsApp users may be veterans to all of the above terminology whereas new users might be approaching the app with trendier, more current lingo. No matter which camp you fall into, or where you fall between, having a good grasp on the popular abbreviations and shorthand phrases that people tend to use will help you to become a better communicator. Display picture means personal picture means profile image, and knowing that all three of these terms essentially refer to the same thing can help you to pare down your chats while being more concise and knowledgeable. The next time that someone wonders what “DP” means in WhatsApp, you’ll be well-equipped to tell them!