Facebook, not yet an international tool

Facebook is probably one of the most popular social networks. Like many other web tools (Google, YouTube, eBay, and so forth) it was developed in USA and, like many other web tools, it quickly became popular worldwide. Nowadays Facebook is used everywhere in the world and people use it to communicate and share contents in mostly any language. In fact, by using Unicode, it is possible to write in Facebook by using most of existing alphabets: Latin, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, and so forth. Furthermore, the Facebook interface was translated to many different languages.

So, can we say that Facebook is really an international multi-language web tool?

You might be surprised, but the answer is NO.

Why? Well, because, despite of its usage in so many countries, it was initially designed for USA only and it is yet biased by such a constraint. In fact, one of the most important aspects developers should take in account when they design an international tool, is languages. Language is a key factor because it is what you use to communicate, to chat, to publish your status, to share content. Furthermore, when you look for friends, you have to look for people who speak your own language or, at least, a language that you know, of course.

However, in USA, the term “international” often refers to that piece of world who speaks only English, that is, anglophone countries. USA people often assume that in all the other countries most people knows at least some English too. By the way, very few American people know a second language with respect the USA population, whereas knowing a second language and even a third one is very common in a lot of countries in the world.

So, when you write your own profile in Facebook, it would be more important to specify which languages you can speak and understand rather than your political or religious orientations or your interests. In fact, who cares of which are your interests if they cannot communicate with you because you do not speak the same language? It is quite reasonable, but it seems it is not so obvious for Facebook’s developers.

In fact, language is missing in Facebook. You do not see any language info in the small box below your face, nor you can search people by language.

Analogously, if you go to your profile, there are a lot of secondary and someway unnecessary info, but no way at all to specify which languages you understand.

What Facebook needs to become a real worldwide multi-language tool, is the possibility

  1. to specify your native language,
  2. to specify other languages you know and how good you are to write and read,
  3. to search people by native and/or additional languages,
  4. to sort and group friends by language,
  5. to specify the language of published content,
  6. to filter news by language.

When such features will be added to Facebook, we can call it an international web tool.

Comments (1) to «Facebook, not yet an international tool»

  1. utente anonimo says:

    Another point is the type of English spoken (I assume this will also apply to languages such as Spanish, where the usage in Latin America will vary slightly from that in Spain). On LinkedIn, which is also dominated by North Americans, the different usages between the UK/India axis on the one hand and the US/Canada on the other give rise to at best humour and at worst misunderstandings.

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