Twitter reaches out to Arabic speaking users

Social media site Twitter recently expanded its linguistic scope for users whose native languages are written from right to left.

The micro-blogging site has created a function to include Arabic, Farsi, Urdu and Hebrew languages in all of its features.

Users were already able to tweet in their preferred language, but can now create hashtags in their native language, amongst other new features.

This enables microbloggers from the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia to engage in political spheres across Twitter by communicating in the language they are more comfortable with.

Lebanese blogger Mohammed Najem said that the multilingual hashtag function optimizes search results, in turn strengthening the impact of a trending topic.

Social media sites have been credited for playing a vital role in last year’s Arab Spring, when a wave of national pro-democracy uprisings swept the region. Groups, pages, dialogues, and announcements were seen dominating Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, which indicates the more youthful, tech aware generation had a prominent role to play in the revolutions.

“Twitter and Facebook and the whole social media platform allows people to express themselves, in their own language, whether in favor or against the regime. We can see that all sides are playing their role in a debate on social media forums. If Twitter had the Arabic function before the uprisings, we would have seen a greater number of people using it but this function was only introduced early this year. They are transforming everything into Arabic and they are working with a lot of activists in Arab countries to give their input on how certain words should be translated into Arabic,” said Lebanese digital strategist and social media expert Ayman Itani.

Twitter announced in January that it would restrict tweets in specific countries which sparked a heated debate about freedom of speech in the cyber world, a place where everyone is believed to have a voice.

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