As the world’s attention continues to be drawn by the civil unrest in Iran, two of the Internet’s giants have stepped in to help those voices be heard and understood. Almost simultaneously, Facebook and Google have launched Persian services to accommodate this growing need for communication.
Within their Translate service, Google have added Persian (still showing as an Alpha, so developments may need to be made); allowing messages to and from the troubled Gulf state to be understood with greater ease. Of course, there are millions of people who speak Persian, so this will have a long-term benefit; however, the timing of this addition is probably far from coincidental.
Likewise, Facebook have just launched a Persian version of their site; allowing easier navigation for Iranians in their native tongue. With the proliferation of news stories and communications between Iran and the rest of the world, this will no doubt come as a welcome addition for those users caught up in the current turbulence.
This kind of reactionary movement can be viewed in two ways, with positivity or cynicism. A cynic might suggest this is a bit of pandering; and if it was so important, why was it not implemented before the Iranian election process began? With the amount of international attention gained, particularly through social media (see our post titled Twitter Becomes a Frontline Resource), it could seem like a good way to generate a little positive attention for the respective brands of Google and Facebook.
The positive spin, the one which I generally favour, is that this is a necessary step to provide those who don’t always have a voice with a global soapbox. Yes it may be populist, but it is also extremely necessary step and shows that the modern world is able to react adequately to situations and provide swift solutions, no matter how trivial they may seem to some. The Internet should be leading the way on innovations, this is possibly one more piece of evidence to suggest it is.