The Internationalisation of Facebook

Published 23rd March 2016
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Do you know anybody who doesn’t know what Facebook is? I bet you don’t.

This social networking website has become incredibly popular in the last decade. It’s got over 58 million users spread over many countries around the world. People say : ‘Once it gets you, it’s got you.’ or ‘if you don’t have it, you don’t exist’

Facebook is a perfect example of an internationalisation process which takes place in translating the website into a wide range of  languages. The social networking website is currently available in over 70 languages, thanks to a framework that allows our user community to translate the text on Facebook and use the benefits that translation can bring to your Platform application or website.

Facebook intends to help application developers to internationalise their apps for users in different local settings by making some of the same tools Facebook has employed to translate its own site.

A Spanish developer of a blog commented:

“In addition to shipping some of strings off to be translated, we used FBML to wrap all of our static text. When a bilingual user comes to the site, she sees untranslated English strings marked with a red link and can translate them online. Using this approach, users were able to translate the entire site in less than a month. We choose this method to make it easy for platform applications to internationalise. Soon developers will be able to use the same method that we used internally to work with users to translate their app”.

Clearly, Facebook is signalling to the developer community that helping apps through the extremely difficult process of internationalisation is a top priority. Nevertheless, there are technical challenges associated with building localisation support for apps which Facebook will find difficult or even impossible to solve.

Facebook  provides another internationalisation service. If you’re rendering a social plugin in an IFrame, it automatically translates the text because it’s based on the viewing user’s locale.

In the bigger picture, it’s clear that Facebook intends to be a global player in social networking. Also, it is well positioned to compete across international and language lines compared to many social networks. Hence, numerous translated versions of the networking website have proliferated recently.

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