Facebook product chief reveals the tiny details that could cause it to 'totally fail' in new markets


Chris Cox

Business Insider / Jillian D'Onfro

Facebook product chief Chris Cox

When you're hurtling towards global domination, you're going to face some unexpected challenges along the way.

While talking about Facebook's goal of reaching "everyone, across any level of connectivity, how and when they want to connect," product chief Chris Cox highlighted some surprisingly subtle areas that have tripped the company up.

For example, the company noticed that, in India, people seemed to be getting stuck during the sign-up process.



In Facebook's translation of its service, it used the term "last name" instead of "family name," the term most Indians recognize.

"People are still every day using Facebook for the very first time, and if we don't get the language and the translation exactly right, we totally fail," Cox said. "Translation doesn't sound like rocket science, but it actually is, at scale, to get all of the words exactly right. And it can make a huge difference in how people understand the product."


If someone is using the internet for the first time, even basic terms that Facebook product designers and developers might take for granted need to be explained.

"'Password' is not a word to be taken for granted," Cox says. "You can't just say 'Please enter a password.' You need to actually take the position of someone who just got [online]."

Cox also said that he's encouraging swaths of his team to switch over to Android phones, because that's the operating system that most people in emerging markets are using. The company also just launched "2G Tuesdays," an initiative where every week Facebook employees will be prompted to activate a setting on the FB app in their phone that slows it down to simulate the connection speeds that most people experience on a daily basis.


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