Facebook has launched a new translation tool that lets you translate posts and comments directly inline on Facebook Pages. The service, which is powered by Microsoft's Bing Translator, means Facebook users can read Page content regardless of the language it is written in.
If a comment posted on a Page is in a language that is different than the one your Facebook account is set to, a Translate button may show up just below it (beside the existing Like button). Clicking on the button will translate the comment to your account language. After translation, an Original button appears instead, and if you click that it will revert the comment to the original version (and offer the Translation button again).
The Translate button currently only appears to users with their language set to Korean, Japanese, Russian, Taiwanese, and Chinese. The content on Facebook Pages – the posts and their comments – could one day be translated to at least 37 languages, since that's how many Bing Translator currently supports.
When you click on the Translate button on a public Page post, a Bing translation appears in a popout window. The system is far from perfect: it doesn't always recognize the comments. Sometimes one or more words aren't translated and other times the following error shows up: "There is no translation available for this story at the moment."
What makes this feature more interesting is that you can also submit your own translation. After your translation has received enough positive votes, it will replace the Bing translation and will appear each time someone clicks on the Translate button associated with the post in question.
Page administrators first need to activate the translation service before it is made available to their users. They can then control how their content is translated (Edit Page => Your Settings => Translations From): by machine, machine and community, or by machine, community, and admin. They can also disable the feature completely. Last but certainly not least, they have the option to block spam or abusive translations.
Many companies and brands have international fan bases for their Pages, so this new feature should prove very popular, especially given that it's free. Many firms have different Pages for different countries and specific teams working to translate the main Page's updates – that could be made unnecessary in the coming months.
Last month, Facebook started testing the translation feature on user comments. At the time, it was not known that this was powered by a Microsoft technology, but now that we know, it's not a big surprise given the close relationship between the two companies.
As a side note, I would think that Microsoft is going to save these new translations. This means that at least for the translation part of Bing, Microsoft will be leveraging Facebook's 800 million active users to improve its tool.