David Talbot

A View from David Talbot

Let's Talk About Privacy (but Not in Russian or Hindi)

Facebook and Twitter are available in other languages. But only 15 percent of their privacy policies have been fully translated.

  • April 4, 2012

The world is increasingly talking about privacy these days. But when people try to read the actual privacy policies of major social networking sites, they often must do so in English.

Facebook’s translation posture is particularly poor, as explained in a new paper by Carnegie Mellon University researchers, accepted at an upcoming privacy conference in France:

“Facebook includes 67 contemporary languages other than English, yet much of the site’s privacy-critical text is only partially, or not at all, translated … Facebook’s Privacy Policy is fully translated for only 10 languages, and partially translated for 26 languages. For 31 languages, including some of the world’s most widely spoken, such as Hindi and Russian, none of the privacy policy is translated.”

Twitter is also spotty: 

“In the Japanese Twitter, as in nine other languages, a paragraph about cookies is in English. The rest of the page is in the target language.”  

By contrast, LinkedIn’s policies are fully translated in all 15 of the languages the site uses. Google+ fares well, and Flicker falls in the middle.

A nice chart in the paper spells out the details. In the wake of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s recommendations for protecting consumer privacy, they are very much worth reading for a better sense of whether major companies are walking the current talk.

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