Swahili Language Not Yet Out of the Woods on Twitter



Twitter Q2 2017

Early May, we started seeing reports circulating in social media that Twitter had finally recognized Swahili as a language on the app. This sounded like a good idea since it would provide tweet translations to people who did not understand the language. Currently for some reason, it thinks some of the tweets written in Swahili are Indonesian.

However, according to Quartz, a person familiar with the matter told the publication that the company does not currently support the language but they were looking to expand their localization capabilities as a company.

That statement right there invalidates the reports that we saw earlier on and on checking the list of languages supported by Twitter, it sure does confirm that Swahili is not supported. Twitter supports 34 languages currently as shown in this website.

Swahili is a popular language in Africa, where it is estimated that around 100 million use the language. It is also a national language in countries like Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and even the DRC. Facebook supports the language, as well as Android so this is a major oversight by Twitter. Facebook and Android even go further to support various local languages you hear being spoken in Africa.

This does not mean we might not see Twitter implementing this in the future. Online movements like #TwitterRecognizeSwahili might make this a reality one day and probably this could spur Twitter to work on not only integrating Swahili support, but also adding local languages that are spoken in Africa, just like how Facebook and Android have done.