Twitter today introduced a new translation tool, which aims to turn its users into volunteers to convert its services into new languages.
The San Francisco-based social network site said its “Twitter Translation Center” initiative is not meant to translate its volume of international tweets, but adapt its mobile, business and help websites, as well as mobile apps, to a variety of languages, making it easier for visitors from around the world to use.
Twitter has set up an account, @translator, to help recruit volunteers. The company is looking to add Indonesian, Portuguese, Russian and Turkish to its service of English, German and Italian. It has been slowly rolling out versions in Spanish, Korean, French and Japanese.
“I shouldn’t have to think about using Twitter,” said Dick Costolo, Twitter’s chief executive. “Right now, those experiences are too dissimilar and I have to relearn Twitter each time I use it.”
Twitter has used “crowdsourcing” or outsourcing tasks to an large undefined group of people, to launch in new languages since 2009, however it had never taking the initiative to approach it with a centralized effort.
The Translation Center comes as protests flair up in the Middle East, as protestors coordinate rallies and organize demonstrations through social network sites like Twitter and Facebook. The service was critical to the recent uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.
Perhaps highlighting the growing importance of Twitter, earlier last week, reports surfaced that intelligence agencies were spending more time analyzing social networking sites, after the role they played in the surprise revolutions.