Facebook Introduces Translation Tool for Other Sites
Facebook is one of the largest sites in the world at the moment but it's not satisfied with being just another site on the Internet, not even the biggest, it wants to be the Internet and its most powerful weapon so far has been Facebook Connect. The login standard has seen great adoption by websites big and small and the social network is now hoping to entice even more new users with an interesting feature, free translations for their websites.
"Translations for Facebook Connect is available as a free tool for developers worldwide to simplify the process of translating a website, IFrame or FBML-based application into any of the languages Facebook currently supports," Facebook's Cat Lee wrote. "For example, with Translations for Facebook Connect, country tourist boards or travel sites that want to attract foreign visitors on holiday can use this framework to translate their sites and automatically present the content to users in their native language after they log in with Facebook Connect."
The appeal is obvious, websites will be able to get localized versions with reasonable quality translations for free, something that could prove very useful for several types of websites. Translations can be very costly and smaller sites can't really afford to pay for professional ones so this new tool opens up a new set of options for many sites and with 15,000 websites using Facebook Connect already there are sure to be plenty of willing partners. But the new feature isn't limited to websites; Facebook apps and other social widgets can also benefit from the program and get a crowdsourced translation.
The feature is built on the same method Facebook used to localize its own site. As late as January 2008, the social network was still only available in English and, despite solid growth outside of the US, could really benefit from having translated versions. But with the costs of translating a site its size prohibitive, even for a company flushed with investor money, it had to turn to its greatest asset, its users, to get it done. Two weeks after it introduced the Translation app, the site had a French and a Spanish version and, since then, has expanded its support to 65 languages with even more in the works. With the new program Facebook hopes to replicate this success for other sites as well.