Coming Soon: Facebook in Your Language

By now, Facebook’s penetration of American Internet life is well known…

  • 90% of US college students have Facebook accounts, and half of them login every day.
  • Professionals are increasingly migrating their professional networks from LinkedIn to Facebook.
  • Facebook is increasingly replacing email as the default communications platform for informal messages between students and non-urgent messages between professionals.

However, less attention has been paid to Facebook’s growing international presence. While other social networks have dominant leadership positions across Europe, Australia, and Asia, Facebook’s penetration is on the rise — at least in the English speaking world…

  • 11.4 million, or 33% of the Canadian population, has joined Facebook as of June 2007, making up over 10% of the total Facebook population.
  • In Britain, London has become the largest geographic network (surpassing Toronto), now with over 880,000 users, representing about 10% of the city’s population.
  • Facebook’s Australian population grew by 80% in June alone, while MySpace Australia grew 10%.

However, one glaring omission is inhibiting Facebook’s growth elsewhere: it’s only available in English. Only 50,000 Germans use Facebook (about 0.06% of a country of 80 million), and Asian numbers are nowhere to be seen. As a result, dozens of regionally-tailored knock-offs have sprung up in countries like China and Turkey in an attempt to beat Facebook to the punch.

But Facebook will be launching their first major localization initiative soon:

Zuckerberg: We haven’t translated the site yet, but that’s something we’re working on and it should be done soon. What we’re doing is pretty broadly applicable to people in all different age groups and demographics and places around the world.

Facebook will likely make their first push across western Europe (perhaps releasing Facebook translations in German, Spanish, French, Italian, and Portuguese), though the cultural divide that Zuckerberg alludes to is much bigger across the Pacific. More specifics soon.