Iran Stories August 23

Last year, the major tech companies examined how Russia was able to take advantage of various platforms during the 2016 U.S. election. Ahead of the midterms, many are stepping up enforcement with Facebook just detailing another country’s efforts to interfere. Google today joined in and also named Iran as being responsible for a misinformation campaign that used YouTube, Blogger and other services.

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Iran Stories December 12, 2014

Ten new languages added to Google Translate, bringing the total to 90

Google has added 10 new languages to its Google Translate service, increasing the total number of languages supported to 90.

These 10 new languages will allow more than 200 million additional people to translate text to and from their native languages. These languages are available now on translate.google.com and will roll out soon to our mobile apps and to the built-in translation functionality in Chrome.  

Google says that it is “just getting started” with the new languages – which span Africa, India, Southeast Asia and Central Asia – and is inviting people to use the Improve this translation link to suggest corrections and improvements. It is also encouraging feedback through the community site it launched in July.

The languages, with quick briefings by Google, are:

  • Chichewa (Chinyanja) is spoken by 12 million people in Malawi and surrounding countries. It is one of 55 languages used in the greetings that now travel the galaxy on the Voyager interstellar probes.
  • Malagasy is spoken by 18 million people in Madagascar, where it is the national language. It is one of only a few languages which puts the verb first in sentences, followed by the object and then the subject.
  • Sesotho has 6 million native speakers. It is the national language of Lesotho and one of 11 official languages in South Africa.
  • Malayalam (മലയാളം), with 38 million native speakers, is a major language in India and one of that country’s 6 classical languages. It’s been one of the most-requested languages, so we are especially excited to add Malayalam support!
  • Myanmar (Burmese, မြန်မာစာ) is the official language of Myanmar with 33 million native speakers. Myanmar language has been in the works for a long time as it’s a challenging language for automatic translation, both from language structure and font encoding perspectives. While our system understands different Myanmar inputs, we encourage the use of open standards and therefore only output Myanmar translations in Unicode.
  • Sinhala (සිංහල) is one of the official languages of Sri Lanka and natively spoken by 16 million people. In September the local community in Sri Lanka organized Sinhala Translate Week, and since then, participants have contributed tens of thousands of translations to our system. We’re happy to be able to release Sinhala as one of the new languages today!
  • Sundanese (Basa Sunda) is spoken on the island of Java in Indonesia by 39 million people. While Sundanese does have its own script, it is today commonly written using the Latin alphabet, which is what our system uses.
  • Kazakh (Қазақ тілі) with 11 million native speakers in Kazakhstan. We’ve received strong support from Kazakh language enthusiasts, and we hope to continue collaborating with the local communities in the region to add even more languages in the future, including Kyrgyz.
  • Tajik (Тоҷикӣ), a close relative to modern Persian, is spoken by more than 4 million people in Tajikistan and beyond.
  • Uzbek (Oʻzbek tili) is spoken by 25 million people in Uzbekistan. In addition to receiving Uzbek community support, we’ve incorporated the Uzbek dictionary by Shavkat Butaev into our system.

Iran Stories August 20, 2014

Google Chrome is now available to download in Cuba

Google announced today that its Chrome browser is now available for users to download across platforms in Cuba. Up until today, Chrome had not been available to users to in Cuba due to trade restrictions that also block the use of some other Google services in the country.

U.S. export controls and sanctions can sometimes limit the products available in certain countries… We’re happy to say that Internet users in Cuba can now use Chrome too, and browse the web faster and more safely than they could before.

Google said today that it’s “been working to figure out how to make more tools available in sanctioned countries” as U.S. export controls and sanctions change. It also made Chrome available in other sanctioned countries in recent years including Syria and Iran. Google didn’t provide any additional information on what exactly it did to navigate sanctions and make Chrome available in the country.

Users in Cuba can download Chrome for desktop and mobile devices now.

Iran Stories October 1, 2012

Theocratic countries have blocked Google’s products left and right, but a new report from Reuters today indicated Iran is lifting its one-week-old block on Gmail due to a flurry of official complaints.

According to Reuters:

Iranian authorities have reopened access to Google Inc’s email service a week after blocking it, a government official and Iranians said on Monday.

Iran maintains one of the world’s largest Internet filters, blocking access to tens of thousands of websites on the grounds that they are criminal or immoral, but the block on Gmail had even prompted complaints in parliament.

Gmail reportedly went live again for Iranians Sunday night, after an official announced on Sept. 23 that Iran would block YouTube throughout the country “until further notice.” Committee Member Mohammad Reza Aghamiri told the Mehr news agency that Gmail’s ban was an ” unintended consequence” of trying to block YouTube. Various local news agencies attributed the banning of YouTube to a controversial anti-Islam film posted on Google’s video-sharing platform.

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