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Quick Hits: Will Facebook Get Lost In Translation?


Brief scrutiny of today's headlines

Facebook in Italian? Si.

The popular social network is globetrotting, adding more languages to create an extensive international base. With its new one-click application anyone will be able to switch to their native tongue. But how will cultural nuances translate? Watch out, Madagascar, you may get "poked" in the near future.

Competitor MySpace (News Corp (NWS)), for its part, is trying to solve the problem for foreign users with a suite of country-specific sites. Its strategy is more considered than Facebook's: A click of the mouse can translate language, not culture.

"Those little, subtle things, if you don't get right - people are not going to like your site," Travis Katz, senior vice-president and general manager of International MySpace, told

The new languages now available for Facebook, in which Microsoft (MSFT) holds a 1.6% stake, are Dutch, Italian, Norwegian and Polish - and it's planning for 20 more, including Chinese. Spanish, French and German are already available.

The article goes on to report that more than 60% of Facebook's 110 million users live outside the U.S. To that end, foreign markets are especially crucial for advertising sales. Rushing its language application to market is about profit, not international flair.

Javier Olivan, international manager at Facebook, hopes the company will become as vital as the phone for future communication. When Facebook does make the phone obsolete, leave me a wall post.
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