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Facebook in Guarani: What is Facebook Doing in Paraguay?

Image from Shutterstock. Copyright: 1000 Words.

Image from Shutterstock. Copyright: 1000 Words.

On December 3 in the former train station of Asunción, Facebook, the social network with 1.2 billion users, launched a Guarani language interface. The translation itself was carried out in conjunction with the Secretary of Linguistic Policies of Paraguay (Guarani is a native language that is spoken currently in the country and is the second official language, after Spanish).

Furthermore, with the objective to connect the whole country, a limited time promotion was launched that lets one access the social network for free from any cell phone.

It is the first official move of the gigantic start-up in our country and it comes to our attention: What is Facebook looking for in a market of only 6.9 million inhabitants?

Taking advantage of the presence of Laura Gonzalez Estéfani, Facebook's Director of Latin American Growth, we took a few minutes to chat and asked her:

Is it your first time in Paraguay?

Uy no, es la quinta vez que vengo por este proyecto. Estoy muy emocionada con él.

Ah no, it's the fifth time that I've come for this project. I'm very excited about it.

How has the growth of Facebook in Latin America been in recent years?

El crecimiento ha sido vertiginoso pero natural. Los latinonamericanos son sociales por naturaleza. Creo que los latinos han encontrado en Facebook una herramienta para expresarse mas allá de sus fronteras. Y si a eso añades, que Latinoamerica es “móvil por naturaleza” con una penetración de internet tan alta a través de teléfonos móviles, tienes que este gran crecimiento es algo casi lógico.

Growth has been staggering but natural. Latin Americans are social by nature. I think that Latinos have found in Facebook a tool to express themselves far beyond their borders. And if you consider that Latin America is “mobile by nature” with such a high level of internet penetration on mobile telephones, you will understand that this large growth is almost somewhat logical.

Why Paraguay?

Creemos en que la conectividad y el acceso a internet es un derecho fundamental para acceder a contenido pero también para mantener relaciones humanas. Nos encantaría conectar a todo el mundo y por eso este proyecto nos emociona tanto. Paraguay es el primer país en el que lo estamos probando.

We believe that connectivity and access to the internet is a fundamental right, in order to access content but also to maintain human relationships. We would love to connect the whole world and therefore this project really excites us. Paraguay is the first country in which we are trying it.

At this time, do campaigns or similar projects exist in other countries?

No te lo puedo adelantar, pero tan grande como éste, solo en Paraguay por el momento.

I can't divulge completely, but as big as this, only in Paraguay at the moment.

Where did the idea to launch a Guarani interface come from?

Cuando empezamos a conversar sobre este proyecto surgió la premisa de que “si vamos a conectar a todos los paraguayos, lo tenemos que hacer en su idioma”. Y así nació el proyecto.

When we started to discuss this project it became clear that “if we're going to connect all Paraguayans, we have to do it in their language”. And so the project started.

How many more users do you think you will attract with this campaign?

A todos. Queremos que todos los paraguayos mayores de 13 años tengan acceso a internet y sean usuarios de Facebook.

Everyone. We want all Paraguayans older than 13 to have access to the internet and to be users of Facebook.

How will you ensure that populations without telephones can access Facebook?

La idea es que con cualquier teléfono básico (sea más o menos smart) puedan aprovechar de esta campaña para tener Facebook gratis en todo el país. De todos modos, sé que se está trabajando en campañas especiales para que estos teléfonos sean mas accesibles y con una buena financiación.

The idea is that with any basic telephone (whether or not it's smart), they can take advantage of this campaign to have Facebook, free, throughout the whole country. At any rate, I know that there is work being done in special campaigns so that those telephones are more accessible and well-funded.

After the talk, Laura Gonzalez expressed the interest and willingness of Facebook to continue supporting access to the internet and thus to culture by utilizing these tools in our country.

Could it be an effective solution to close the digital divide? What do you think?

Article originally published in the blog Hallucina [es].

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