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Facebook’s latest acquisition is all about fighting fake news


The social network’s reported purchase of Bloomsbury AI will bring in a very specific kind of talent and expertise.

Some background: Automating online content moderation using AI remains a significant challenge. As we’ve said before, algorithms struggle to understand context and pick up on things like hate speech. Although Facebook is getting better at detecting it, the platform still has a long way to go.

The news: TechCrunch says that Facebook is coughing up between $23 million and $30 million primarily to acquire the UK-based startup’s employees. The company’s head of research, Sebastian Riedel, is among the leading lights in the field of natural-language processing and has experience fighting fake news. Facebook will apparently be applying the Bloomsbury team’s skills to combat inappropriate and false content on the platform.

Why it matters: Facebook’s willingness to spend tens of millions to get the staff that comes along with a company shows how tight the labor market in artificial intelligence has gotten. The Alphabet-owned firm DeepMind has also turned to UK startups as a source of AI specialists.