The world’s first multilingual social network: XIHA

Yet another social network – so what’s special about this one?

Finnish-created XIHA is the world’s first multilingual social network. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn do offer content in different languages, but this is supported through a monolingual implementation – you have to choose one language for the user interface, and would mostly update your status & post comments, etc in that language. Multilingual people are therefore not easily able to fully express themselves, as to choose one language might alienate friends and followers who do not understand it.

Many people in this situation tend to adopt the language of the country they are living in while online, and occasionally post updates in their mother tongue, but this is far from ideal. Language is an important part of identity, and with more and more people having spent time living in a different country from the one they were born in, we are all more likely to have friends and connections overseas. Many people communicate in more than one language in life, so it’s time there was a social network to allow them to do so online.

The XIHA interface is localised in over 60 languages, and you can view content in any of these. The main difference from other networks is that it employs real-time translation. By using a deeply embedded version of Google translate, as well as human translators (who, incidentally, are paid in hard cash), chat sessions and update streams can be translated instantly. A great example of how to bring together machine and human translation.

XIHA has over half a million members in 200 countries so far – although no country represents more than 5% of the total traffic. Because it offers such a seamless multilingual experience, XIHA could well expand much faster than Facebook has. Its Terms of Use currently state clearly that the network is for non-commercial use, but this may change later just as other social networks have developed to include commercial presences for companies and brands.

What XIHA means for social networking:

  • Individuals can communicate with their friends, followers and fans seamlessly, wherever they are in the world. For example, a musician, actor/actress or sports personality can chat, tweet, and send updates to fans in up to 56 languages, across 200 countries. (The same could later apply to companies and brands, if XIHA follows the same pattern as other networks have done: imagine being able to reach out to a potential customer base in 200 countries!)
  • Any individual can follow updates from any of their connections, regardless of the language these are posted in.

The potential for this network is huge – it will be interesting to see how it develops and gains members, and if its inventors will embrace the commercial opportunities at a later date.

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If you want to use social media to connect with your global audience, we at Web-Translations can help. Multilingual social media engagement provides an excellent channel for customer feedback and can really help build your brand overseas – ask us how: sales[at], Tel: +44 (0) 1924 360460.