Facebook has introduced a service with Bing Translation that translates page status updates and also allows those reading to replace the machine translation with their own.
Page admins can select to show only machine translated posts, or they can select to allow Facebook users to submit their own translations. Currently, all Pages have been automatically opted in to allowing both machine and community translations, and the Translate button only appears to users with their language set to Korean, Japanese, Russian, Taiwanese and Chinese-Hong Kong.
Inside Facebook announced this change today, and explained how it works:
“The languages offered are Korean, Japanese, Russian, Taiwanese and Chinese-Hong Kong. If a person reading has his FB language set to one of these languages, they will automatically see the machine translation and be given the option to offer his own translation that can replace the machine version.”
What is not so clear to me is the process by which user translations can replace machine translations. Inside Facebook says:
“When someone clicks on the translate button on a public Page post, a Bing translation will appear in a popout window. People then have the opportunity to submit their own translation by opting-in to using inline translations. After their generated 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.”
Does that mean that a number of possible user translations could exist beneath a status update, and if a certain number of users ‘vote’ on one particular one, then it replaces the machine translation? But what happens to the other possible translations and are further translations still permitted? I think I have to learn Korean quickly to see this in action, unless anyone can enlighten me …?
Anyhow, whilst the benefits of this are obvious – brands may no longer have to fiddle around with geolocation and language postings and/or having different Facebook pages per language, user translations should in theory improve on Bing’s machine translations – there are some quite strikingly Scary Things.
1. The default is to allow the machine and the user translation. You can turn this off, but you have to know it’s switched on in the first place. (Edit Page>Your settings) I’m a Page admin, and I didn’t see any information on this. I know Facebook recently cut down on the emails they send out, but this would have been welcome …
2. Page owners are at immediate risk from some pretty serious griefing. According to the Help Center, “Admins will also see a “Manage Translations” link underneath their Page posts. From here they can approve or delete community-submitted translations or add their own. If admins find someone trying to submit objectionable content or spam as a translation, they can quickly block them from their Page and from submitting translations to other Pages as well.” Which is grand if they understand the language. Well, actually, not even then. Since this looks like post-moderation, the damage may already have been done before the admin even gets to the page, even supposing they can translate it.
I know, I shouldn’t grumble. Since eModeration is a multi-lingual community management and moderation agency, I suppose Facebook may have done us a favour. But it’s only fair to warn Page owners about the risks they may be facing.