Twitter Kills Auto-Translate Feature, Makes it Harder for You to Read Tweets
Twitter has quietly removed Bing translation from its mobile apps and web platform. The feature had first shown up in May in Tweetdeck, and was added to Twiiter’s iOS and Android apps in June.
There’s been no announcement from Twitter to explain the change, but users have been commenting on the change for a few days now:
"Translate this tweet" is gone from Tweetdeck, making it harder for me to retweet non-US tweeters I follow
— Paul Biba (@paulkbiba) August 7, 2014
I don’t know about you but I’m not surprised to see it go; this was a feature which was never going to work well. A 140 character tweet simply isn’t long enough to provide enough context for an auto-translate function.(Sure, a person can do it, but we’re talking computers here.)
An auto-translate feature works well with longer pieces of text: articles, press releases, and blog posts. It doesn’t work so well with abbreviations, slang, text-speak, and other informal language.
I’ve never used the Bing Translation in Twitter, but a few years ago I helped beta test an independent project to offer a similar feature. That project was based on Google Translate, and not Bing, and it proved less than successful. I eventually gave up on it because so many of the tweets were unintelligible; too much of the context was lost in translation.
I do still translate the occasional tweet, but in my experience I have often had to ask for a second translation from an actual person before I was sure that I understood the tweet.
Did anyone use the Bing translate feature? How well did it work?