Friday, June 19, 2009
Several organizations have increased their Farsi services in the wake of the events surrounding the recent presidential election. Google has added Farsi-to-English translation as one of its translation options to its Google Translate service. Similarly, Facebook has launched a Farsi version of its web site. The BBC has increased the number of broadcasting satellites that it uses for its Farsi news channel, BBC Persian Television.
Google’s translation services currently only provide translation from Farsi to English. Franz-Josef Och stated that this was to enable people in Iran to communicate directly via the Internet with the outside world, saying “Like YouTube and other services, Google Translate is one more tool that Persian speakers can use to communicate directly to the world, and vice versa — increasing everyone’s access to information.”. The company states that it is working to provide translation between Farsi and the other 40 languages that it provides on its Translate service.
Facebook’s Farsi version of its web site, which is still marked as a beta-test version, was launched rapidly, with, the company states, the assistance of more than 400 Farsi speakers who submitted translations of the contents of the site.
Both companies state that their reasons for expanding their services are to promote communication, and are not politically motivated.
The BBC has increased the number of broadcasting satellites that it uses for broadcasting its Farsi news channel. This is, it states, in response to signal jamming of its broadcasts by the Iranian government. (The Iranian government accuses BBC Persian Television, which is funded by the British Foreign Office, of being a propaganda service for the British Government.) It states that its broadcasts on the Hot Bird 6 satellite had been aggressively jammed, and that therefore it was now also broadcasting from the Eutelsat W2M satellite, and planned to start broadcasting from Nilesat as well in the near future.