Facebook Translates Comments

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Facebook already connects hundreds of millions of users around the globe, and the site itself has been translated into more than 70 different languages. Now, it looks like the popular website may take its efforts to break down language barriers between users to another level by offering automatic translations for comments.

At the moment, the feature is only available to some users. When it’s active, it allows users to see translated versions of comments written in an unfamiliar language, as well to switch back and forth between the translation and the original comment. The translation program doesn’t work all the time, but when it does work it is apparently even able to translate some slang terms. So far, it’s been spotted translating Hebrew, French, Spanish, and Chinese.

The new feature is geared toward businesses and is only available on Facebook Pages operated by businesses and celebrities. Inside Facebook, which broke the story, explains the appeal:

But you can still see how there are some potentially very big use cases here. Page owners, especially for popular international icons, are deluged by comments across the languages that Facebook now supports. Chances are they don’t understand everything every fan has been saying, so they’ve had to rely on Google Translate or other tools instead. As the feature is only working for Pages now, Facebook seems to be focusing on solving that problem.

If this feature gets rolled out more fully, it will be undoubtedly be a boon to busy page owners. However, as with any automatic translation technology, care must be taken to seek outside help and clarification when necessary. This should be great for getting the “gist” of what your commenters are saying, but in a tricky customer service situation, you might want to consult a professional, especially if you and your customer don’t seem to be communicating very well.