Apparent Facebook bug shows users ads in different languages

Many Facebook users are reporting that they’re seeing ads in different languages than the one they’ve set their accounts to.

This seems to be a bug that has been around for most of December, if not longer. New Zealand reader Sam Stone was first let us know about the problem, providing the screenshot to the right.

Occasionally users will see an ad in a different language if an advertiser has not selected proper targeting parameters, but this seems more widespread, with users are saying that the majority of their ads are in the wrong language, not just one out of many.

A question about the issue in Facebook’s community forum posted about a week ago has 20 followers and 34 comments. We’ve also seen dozens of public status updates and tweets from English-speaking users saying their ads are in Arabic, Russian, Swedish, Japanese, German and other foreign languages. It’s unclear whether advertisements in English are appearing to non-English speakers, but we’ve heard of a French user seeing ads in German.

Either way, it seems a number of advertisers could be wasting impressions on audiences who can’t understand their messages or might not even be in a relevant location for their product or services. We have not heard from any advertisers who have been able to tell whether their ads were affected.

We asked Facebook about the issue earlier this week, but the company has not provided any information or statement. We have not found any public acknowledgment of the bug anywhere on the site either.