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Google and Facebook rush services to support Iran

Google and Facebook rush out Persian language services in response to ongoing election protests

Google and Facebook have followed Twitter in supporting services for Iran, in response to the current unrest in the country.

On Thursday Google announced that it had added Persian language support to its translation service, in order to increase access to information for Persian speakers.

In a blog posting, Franz Och, principal scientist at Google 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.”

At present the service only supports translation between English and Persian, but the company said it is working on other languages.

Facebook has also launched a beta version in Persian, also as a direct result of the Iran protests.

“Since the Iranian election last week, people around the world have increasingly been sharing news and information on Facebook about the results and its aftermath. Much of the content created and shared has been in Persian--the native language of Iran--but people have had to navigate the site in English or other languages. We could not have made this happen so quickly without the more than 400 Persian speakers who submitted thousands of individual translations of the site,” explained Eric Kwan, localization engineer with Facebook.

Google’s actions are in contrast to the UAE, where Google has met with the Dubai Police to discuss web censorship, although Google denies claims that it has had any formal request to censor sites or block content on YouTube. Google also blocks certain YouTube content in Turkey.