Iranian protests prompt Facebook and Google to launch Farsi tools

LONDON - The election crises in Iran has prompted Facebook and Google to launch support tools for the Persian or Farsi language.

Google has added Persian to its translation service Google Translate and has asked users to lookout for results that are incorrectly translated.

Google, on its blog, said: "We feel that launching Persian is particularly important now, given ongoing events in Iran.

"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.

"As with all machine translation, it's not perfect yet. And we're launching this service quickly, so it may perform slowly at times. We'll keep a close watch and if it breaks, we'll restore service as quickly as we can."

The addition of Persian brings the number of languages available on Google's online translation service to 42.

Google Principal Scientist Franz Och, who heads Google's translation group, told Reuters in an interview that given the recent events in Iran it was a "natural idea" to help people get access to information and to communicate in the wake of last week's presidential election in which a landslide victory was declared for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Och said: "This tool will improve access to information for people inside and outside."

Supporters of opposition reformist candidate Mirhossein Mousavi have called the election rigged and spent a week protesting on the streets.

Social networking site Facebook, which has seen a surge in traffic from Iran as the protests have progressed, has released a test version of its site available in Persian for the first time.

Previously users had shared content in Persian, but the site navigation was only available in English. Facebook said users with Persian facing browsers will be directed to the translated beta test version.

Facebook, in a statement, said: "Persian was already in translation before worldwide attention turned to the Iranian elections, but because of the sudden increase in activity we decided to launch it sooner than planned.

"This means that the translation isn't perfect, but we felt it was important to help more people communicate rather than wait."

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