Spanish-Language Facebook Unveiled

Facebook Inc. unveiled a Spanish-language version of its popular online social network Thursday, hoping to expand its audience and catch up to rival

It marks the first time Facebook has been available in a language besides English since founder Mark Zuckerberg started the Web site at Harvard University four years ago.

Facebook plans to add French and German versions before April, according to Matt Cohler, the Palo Alto-based company's vice president of strategy and operations.

News Corp.'s MySpace, which is larger than Facebook, already is available in 13 languages, including Spanish, French, German, Japanese and Italian.

Adding more languages is important to Facebook because about 60 percent of its 64 million active users are from outside the United States, including about 2.8 million in Latin America and Spain.

Beginning next week, anyone accessing Facebook from a Spanish-speaking country will automatically be routed to the Spanish version of its Web site.

About 1,500 Facebook users translated the site's vernacular and applications into Spanish using a tool the company provided. The same approach is being used to handle the French and German translations of the site.