Look up the word frape in the Shorter Oxford Dictionary (which despite its name is the longest of the Oxford English dictionaries except for the huge one that you have to read with a magnifying glass) and this is what you find:
†frape noun. ME–E18
[App. from Old French frap multitude, of unkn. origin.]
A crowd; a mob, a rabble
The little dagger at the beginning of the definition means the word is obsolete; “ME–E18” shows that the word originated in Middle English (therefore sometime in the Middle Ages) and died out around the 18th century. So it’s dead.
Except that it’s not. Google frape, and you’ll get a cascade of results. Frape, as one of the definitions in urbandictionary.com has it, is a combination of the words Facebook (or its initial letter, at any rate) and rape. Frape is perhaps less sinister than it sounds: as the entry goes on, it’s “the act of raping someone’s Facebook profile when they leave it logged in. Profile pictures, sexuality and interests are commonly changed, though fraping can include the poking or messaging of strangers from the fraped person’s Facebook account: Dude, did you see Jonny’s Facebook profile, someone fraped him big time.”
Most of the discussions of frape (which Microsoft Word’s spellcheck irritatingly corrects to frappe [it’s a milkshake] every time I type it) consider it merely an amusing pastime—frapedlol.com (“hilarious frapes from Facebook”), for example, cites such side-splitters as “For everyone who will read the papers today… I didn’t know she was only 15.” Or “One of my friends was fraped; his brother created a Facebook group saying ‘I’ve lost my phone! I still have everybody else’s number, but mine is new and it’s 07xxxxxxx’—so everybody changed the number in their phone books and it took him a week before he found out.” Or here, there’s “Finally getting my chlamydia sorted out today yaaaay!”
The most in-depth exposition of how to commit frape is probably at the source—i.e., an actual Facebook page—titled Rules of Frape, whose suggested “rules” include such gems as “Changing the victim’s sexual orientation is a must”; “Political views must be changed to ‘BNP’ [British Nationalist Party, extreme right-wing jingoists]”; “Declare that you just ate a baby”; “Ask strange questions such as ‘why did I just put a grape up my bum?’”
What’s wrong with plain old hacking?
As a non-frapist—I’m so naïve, I didn’t even know you could hack other people’s Facebook pages—I found myself vaguely revolted by this stuff. As the writer of the fbomb blog puts it, “I’m sure I’m not the only one out there who’s disturbed by the number of people who casually use the term “facebook rape” or “frape.” She continues, “This usage cheapens a word that should not be used lightly, and the fact that we live in a society where rape not only exists but can be turned into a joke is disgusting.”
I’m with fbomb here. A lot of frapes appear to be simply repellent sex jokes, which somehow makes the fact that they’re named for the worst sex act of them all even more repulsive. And the fact that they’re treated as a matter for hilarity and lots of LOLs just adds to the creepiness of it all.
I did find one frape suggestion that seemed both amusing and innocuous: posting a line about “OK, I’ve been converted, COME ON LIVERPOOL” on the Facebook page of a rabid Manchester United supporter. But even such harmless fun could benefit from a name change (since it’s no doubt impossible to simply put a stop to it). Any suggestions?—TAMARA GLENNY