Iran Protesters: Facebook, Google Speak Your Language

Social network, search engine take language lessons to help Iranian users

Google and Facebook this week moved quickly to add Farsi (Persian) to their websites as the unrest in Iran continues. 

Google is offering an instant translations to and from Farsi at Google Translate.  Google says it added the language to the 41 languages it already features ahead of schedule, and may contain errors.  It's asking its users to alert it of any problems.

Facebook, which has relied on volunteer translators to add new languages to the site, added Farsi late Thursday.  To change your Facebook language, click on the word "language" in the lower left most corner of your Facebook profile.  (To change it back, click that spot again and select "English.")

When changed to Farsi, the page reads right to left, and any typing appears on the screen in the same fashion.

In an interview  with the BBC, Google and Facebook said they were not trying to take sides in the fight, but rather encourage the communication of ideas. 

The changes come as those who object to the  reelection of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad use online services to spread word of their cause and organize protests.   YouTube and Twitter in particular have been credited for spreading news of demonstrations and civil unrest.  Twitter is particularly well positioned as a tool to dissidents - it can be used in any language, can be accessed from a variety of devices and an author can broadcast to an unlimited number of followers.

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