The Inside Facebook blog reported last week that Facebook is testing a Translate button for comments on pages. With the introduction of this new feature, comments that are written in languages other than your account’s default language now include a Translate button next to them. When you click on the Translate button, the comment is automatically translated to your default language. The Translate button is then replaced by an Original button which untranslates the comment.
I have learned that this service will be provided through the Microsoft Translation API. Facebook will not be using a self-developed machine translation for this service. At least not at this point.
Microsoft is fast becoming the ‘go-to’ translation API player. Since Google deprecated their free API and turned it into a paid service, developers are abandoning Google and using Bing instead. Microsoft has stressed over the past few months that they will make no changes to their free translation API and have even increased user limits to make it even more attractive to developers.
Another major software company that went with the Bing Translation API is Autodesk, recently releasing TransTips for AutoCAD, Inventor, Revit, and 3ds Max. This plugin translates the contents of tooltips in various Autodesk products automatically into one of 35+ languages via the Bing translation API.
The cooperation between Facebook and Microsoft should come as no surprise to anyone. Microsoft is a minor shareholder in Facebook, having bought 1.6% of the company shares for $240 Million back in 2007. I tried to get more information from Microsoft about this new cooperation with Facebook but could not get any information. I can assume with great certainty however, that the terms of the cooperation were discussed at a high level and that Microsoft will provide specially trained MT engines to Facebook at some point in time.
I also tried to obtain more information from Ghassan Haddad, Director of Internationalization at Facebook. I’ll report back with any new information I can obtain.
- Microsoft, Twitter Reach Bing Agreement (microsoft-watch.com)
- Infographic: Facebook Likes Translated Around The World (socialtimes.com)