Twitter targets Asia with support for 5 new languages

Twitter has demonstrated how important Asia is for its service by introducing support for five new regional languages.

Chinese (both simplified and traditional), Hindi, Tagalog and Malay are the new additions that will help significant numbers of users across Asia gain access to non-English versions of the service. Each language will have its own dedicated non-English access point and service.

From the company annnouncement:

With these new languages Twitter will now be more easily accessible to almost half a billion people around the world.

Certainly the introduction of Tagalog, Hindi and Malay will go some way to boosting the service’s popularity in these markets, with an eye on more rural/non-urban users who may not be comfortable with English.

The addition of Chinese, in particular, is interesting given that the service remains blocked in China. Of course, there are a great many of Chinese outside of the country.

[UPDATE: it seems that Twitter is working in China, at time of writing, through to an alternative URL, as Penn Olson reports. How long will it be until this new access point is banned though?]

The microblog has adopted a crowd-sourced approach to multi-lingual support which first bore fruit when Indonesian and Dutch were introduced last month, having being developed entirely by volunteers. Remarkably, Twitter has 290,000 volunteer translators, a number that it says continues to grow.

Twitter is not the only social network to adapt its service to Asia. Earlier this month, Foursquare – which has been a notable success across the continenttook its total number of supported languages to 11 with the addition of Bahasa (Indonesian), Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Thai. While Google, Facebook and LinkedIn are just three of the many internet giants to have opened offices across the region in the last 18 months.

These moves are further proof of the growing importance of Asia, a topic I touched on last week, as internet penetration and smartphone usage sees more and more Asians going online.

H/t @LilMsEditor (via Twitter naturally)