Facebook Seeks To Patent Crowd-Sourcing Translations Application

Facebook has had a lot of success since implementing localized sites early in 2008, through asking users to help translate the site into languages and dialects via in an app called Translations. Now, the site is looking to patent it.

Facebook began using Translations last year to avoid the high cost and long turnover time tradtionally associated with translating a site with such a high level of content. The site is currently viewable in more than 60 different languages.

The patent application, filed in December, includes around a voting system where Facebook users submit their translations of words or phrases, and other native speakers and users rate which submissions are the best. Other social networks have been using similar techniques following Facebook’s success, but there were also a few existing translation tools that may keep the patent from going through — if this sort of idea is even acceptable to the patent office in the first place.

Should the patent office accept Facebook’s application, it could spell trouble for other social networks. They would either have to create new forms of crowd-sourcing translation, or revert to the costly and sometimes inaccurate practice of translating everything in-house or through contractors. This would not only give Facebook another huge leg up over other networks, but create a potential revenue generator as other sites seek to utilize Facebook’s method for translating their content.

However, social networking patents have so far not come strongly into effect. Friendster, for example, holds a number of social networking-related patents, but to our knowledge has not sued other social networks for patent infringement. Facebook, in this case, might be trying to get a patent on translations to preclude others getting it then suing Facebook. The company has already faced patent lawsuits from smaller companies that seem to not have much else going for them.

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