Facebook says 'hola' to Spanish users

Facebook says 'hola' to Spanish users

German and French versions also in the pipeline

Facebook has stepped up its European presence with a Spanish version of the social networking site. German and French versions are expected in the coming weeks.

The company claims to have more than 2.8 million active users in Latin America and Spain, and nearly 1,500 Spanish-speaking users helped to translate the site into Spanish in less than four weeks.

"Over 60 per cent of Facebook users are now outside the US, many in countries where English is not the primary language," said Mark Zuckerberg, founder and chief executive at Facebook.

"Our goal has always been to allow people to use Facebook in their native language so we built an application to enable users to participate in translating the site into their local languages and dialects."

Spanish speakers can change their language preference from their account settings, and the site will automatically load the Spanish version when accessed from a Spanish-speaking country from 11 February.

The translation was performed using an application that contributors installed on their profiles which allowed them to submit translations inline while browsing the site.

The community then approved all translations through a voting system. For example, users agreed on 'dar un toque' to describe the Facebook-coined term 'poke'.

One Spanish speaking user was responsible for translating 1,284 of the winning sentences, almost three per cent of the entire site.

Facebook has said that the translation application will also soon be available to platform developers who want applications translated by the community.