Facebook's ad page was not hacked, it's a suggestion from a user

Next Story

Google's Street View Takes A Byte Out Of Crime

On Monday we reported on how Facebook appeared to have been hacked. For a short time the Facebook Advertising page had its title description changed from “Advertising” to “Lying”. An observant informant emailed the screen grab before the page was changed and other blogs also carried the news of the incident.

However, Facebook has since come back to me to clarify. It wasn’t a hack, or a disgruntled employee they say, it was an anomaly in their translation software. When I asked why the English word “advertising” was auto-translated into the word “lying”, the explanation was that because Facebook’s regionalisation software is driven by users – in other words, users are roped into translating Facebook’s interface for each country it operates in – one of the words those cheeky users had suggested had briefly popped into that slot by mistake. Call it a bug in the software.

So there you have it – iit’s not Facebook’s employees who think Facebook is lying about its advertising, or a hacker, it’s a user who actually suggested it. I’m glad we’ve sorted that out.

  • http://www.twitter.com/mattyran Matt Randall

    I attended a Facebook seminar in November and I remember them saying how all the localisation was crowdsourced to users.

    This allowed them to translate the Facebook interface much faster and cheaper than hiring in a team of translators for each language.

    I have them quoted as saying it took them only 24 hours to get a Spanish version of the Facebook interface complete and 1 week for the French version.

    In contrast, back in the day when Yahoo were translating their portals into foreign languages, they hired dedicated translators at the cost of millions, and the average translation time for each language was 9 months.

    I guess the important message is crowdsourcing is very useful for getting things done faster than you could achieve just using your employees or hired in contractors.

    However, it is crucial that you have gatekeepers in place, who monitor exactly what your crowdsourced effort is up to, so as to avoid embarrassment like this. It also reminds me of the Wikipedia article vandalism that happens from time to time.

  • Peter C

    reddit does a similar thing for translations (English, German, Pirate, LOLCATS etc) — they have a “secret” page where you simply translate all the fields on their site in a differnet language.
    Cool idea.

  • http://www.afterworkdeals.com Burak

    Why would you translate from English into English?

    Also, in this case wouldn’t ‘Fake Degree/Loan Shark’ be more accurate?

  • http://www.allfacebook.com/2009/01/facebook-lying-ad-platfor/ Facebook’s “Lying” Ad Platform Mystery Revealed.

    […] the word “Lying” appeared as a result of its language translation application, reports TechCrunch. This was, in fact, an English to English auto-translation that managed to allow the word lying to […]

  • http://www.ukstevieb.com/2009/01/08/steviebs-shared-items-january-8-2009/ StevieB’s Shared Items - January 8, 2009 at Lost in Cyberspace

    […] Facebook’s ad page was not hacked, it’s a suggestion from a userJanuary 7, 2009 […]

  • http://www.solutiony.com.ng Oo.. the Nigerian guy.

    Advertizing is Lying says Facebook. They are right! {seesmic_video:{“url_thumbnail”:{“value”:”http://t.seesmic.com/thumbnail/prgTETtVxC_th1.jpg”}”title”:{“value”:”Advertizing is Lying says Facebook. They are right! “}”videoUri”:{“value”:”http://www.seesmic.com/video/kbHSIxFtZO”}}}

blog comments powered by Disqus