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Facebook to launch London hub to fight harmful content

Facebook is opening an engineering centre in London as part of its strategy to keep harmful content away from its platform.

The new centre which will build tools and artificial intelligence (AI) systems to detect and remove harmful content and behaviour from the social media site, will create more than 500 jobs by the end of the year.

The company said on Wednesday that a fifth of the jobs will been in AI, while "a significant number" will be in the company's community integrity team, which works on stopping spam and abuse, removing fake accounts and addressing violence and personal safety.

The new office in Soho will take the number of Facebook London employees to more than 3,000 people across its three sites in the capital – the social media giant's biggest engineering hub outside of the US.

The company said that 1,800 Facebook London staff will be employed in technology and engineering by the end of the year.

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Announcing the investment at London Tech Week, Nicola Mendelsohn, Facebook's vice president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said: "Safety is our top priority at Facebook and over the last two years we've substantially increased our investment in this area.

"These hundreds of new jobs demonstrate not only our commitment to the UK but also our determination to do everything we can to keep Facebook safe and secure.

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"Many of these new roles will accelerate our artificial intelligence work in London as we continue developing technology to proactively detect and remove malicious content."

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Commenting on the announcement, Digital Secretary Jeremy Wright said:"The UK is uniquely placed to spearhead the digital transformation of society and our modern Industrial Strategy aims to use the power of technology to change people's lives for the better.

"I welcome this new Facebook investment. It is a timely reminder we have the skills, location and language digital firms need to succeed, and a positive step which will see UK expertise helping to develop tech solutions to tackle harmful behaviour worldwide."

Antony Walker, Deputy CEO of technology industry umbrella techUK, said: "This is a significant announcement that demonstrates the continued investment that Facebook is making in safety technology and its commitment to the UK as a development hub.

Image: Facebook London employees will exceed 3,000 by December

"The UK has world class capabilities in AI and these new jobs will help to strengthen the UK's skills base and strengthen its tech ecosystem."

Britain is looking to be a dominant force in the emerging AI market, leading the government to commission research into how the artificial intelligence industry can be grown in the UK.

The research, published in 2017, was carried out by computer scientist Professor Dame Wendy Hall and Jerome Pesenti, Facebook's vice president of AI.

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