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This article was published on July 1, 2016

Facebook now lets everyone translate posts to any language they want

Facebook now lets everyone translate posts to any language they want

To help its users reach a more global audience, Facebook is rolling out a tool that lets you distribute posts in different languages.

According to Facebook, about 50 percent of its community speaks a language other than English — and most don’t speak each other’s native language. To help those people get information and discuss events, it built its own tool for translating post text.

Already available for Pages, the tool is now being distributed to individual users as well. Using machine learning, it simply reads your original post, then translates it to any language you select.

Machine learning and user friendly

It doesn’t show all text to all users, either. If I write a post in English, and choose to have it translated to Spanish, only users who have the default language in Facebook set to Spanish will see it in that language. If users typically write posts in Spanish — but have their default language set to something else — they may see my post in Spanish, too.

Posts can utilize a ‘targeting’ tool for translation, but users won’t need to fuss with that. Facebook does the heavy lifting for you.

Authors can also edit the translated text if they like. If you want to use some colloquial terms or add a bit of information (and feel comfortable editing it yourself), you can.

It’s easy to see the upside, especially if you’ve got family in different areas of the world who don’t speak your native language. Facebook notes Pages are using translation about 10,000 times daily, and I’m sure seeding it to the daily user will only help it along.

Facebook will also be using translated posts to ‘teach’ its machine learning algorithms. Its hope is that by opening it up to less-popular languages — and watching how we use it — the tool will get better over time for everyone.