Twitter buys AI startup to tackle spam, fake news and other abuse

A startup founded by an Imperial academic has been bought by Twitter to address the spread of fake news across the social network.


Twitter Is Used for Connecting People. First, Twitter is used to connect people with the same interests.

With over 270 million active global users, Twitter is a great platform for businesses to communicate with their current audience, gain new prospects, and drive traffic to their websites.

But just because lots of people are on Twitter doesn’t mean they all use it the same way.
While this data is being exploited by individuals and organizations to gain competitive advantage, a substantial amount of data is being generated by spam or fake users.

One in every 200 social media messages and one in every 21 tweets is estimated to be spam. The rapid growth in the volume of global spam is expected to compromise research works that use social media data, thereby questioning data credibility.

Motivated by the need to identify and filter out spam contents on Twitter, Twitter recently bought a startup founded by an Imperial academic called Fabula AI.

Fabula AI uses machine learning to analyze the behavior of Twitter users, including tweets likes, and retweets, to help the social network build up a picture of relationships and interactions. Its technology can distinguish patterns in how data moves around the site and can utilize this analysis to detect how credible it is.

Twitter said that Fabula AI would help it “improve the health of the conversation”, and in the future would also contribute to halting online spam and abuse.

Parag Agrawal, Twitter’s chief technology officer, said: “This strategic investment in graph deep learning research, technology and talent will be a key driver as we work to help people feel safe on Twitter and help them see relevant information.”

Fabula’s team will join the Twitter Cortex machine-learning team. Twitter said it has created a research group led by Sandeep Pandey, head of machine learning/AI engineering, to focus on such areas as natural-language processing, reinforcement learning, machine-learning ethics, recommendation systems, and graph deep learning.

Dr. Rebeca Santamaria-Fernandez, Director of Industry Partnerships & Commercialization for Imperial’s Faculty of Engineering, said: “Imperial has an extensive entrepreneurial ecosystem, and identifying routes for our world-leading academics to improve our understanding of the challenges faced by the industry is an important part of the College’s work.

“Establishing new modes of engagement for Imperial researchers to split their time between academia and industry is just one of the routes for helping our technologies solve serious social problems such as the spread of disinformation and fake news.”

Twitter’s acquisition of Fabula AI builds on other investments the company has made in machine learning, including Magic Pony – founded by Imperial graduates Rob Bishop and Zehan Wang – which Twitter acquired in 2016.


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