Mike Isaac

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As Egypt Erupts in Political Tumult, Twitter Translates High-Profile Tweeters

hashtag_twitterIn an ongoing effort to make Twitter more readily accessible to the world, Twitter continued its experiments with tweet translation on Wednesday, giving people the ability to see some high-profile Egyptian Twitter users’ tweets translated into local languages.

The update is in lockstep with the tumult occurring in the Middle East, as the world watched Egypt’s military oust Mohammed Morsi from his elected position as President of the nation.

“As part of our experiment with Tweet text translation, we’ve enabled translation for some of the most-followed accounts in Egypt, so people around the world can better understand and keep up with what’s happening there,” a Twitter spokesman said in a statement.

Many of the key players involved in the political struggle are tweeting in Arabic, obviously making it more difficult for non-natives and outside observers to follow the goings-on. On Tuesday, for example, Morsi himself issued defiant statements to his opposition in Arabic via Twitter.

The move is also a part of Twitter’s ongoing experimentation with translation of tweets in general. Earlier this week, Twitter began dabbling in providing a Bing-powered translation feature to some users, which displayed a tweet in its original language, while also presenting the translated text beneath it.

Twitter provided a full, curated list of the high-profile accounts being translated, found here.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik