Twitter buys Fabula; London startup that detects fake news

Fabula is the London-based startup recently bought by Twitter. Fabula uses artificial intelligence to detect “fake news” and is now set to help Twitter tackle ‘fake news’ head on.

The social network said Fabula would help it “improve the health of the conversation” and could also work to stop spam and abuse in the future. 

The purchase comes after Twitter came under fire for failing to combat abusive messages effectively, and for removing the accounts of right-wing figures, causing Republicans to complain that the site is politically biased against them.

Critics of the site also suggest that the format of the social network encourages rudeness and removes nuance from debates because of its short, public messages. 

As with most social media sites Twitter has had issues with ‘fake news’; fabricated or exaggerated posts, designed to go viral. Users have been posting videos or images with false descriptions for political or promotional means. 

Fabula uses machine learning to combat this issue. Fabula analyses behaviour including the number of likes, and retweets, helping the social network to build a clear picture of the interactions on the site.

The company is able to analyse the complex structures of platforms like Twitter thanks to it’s pioneering “geometric deep learning”. This technology is able to detect patterns in how information moves through the site, and by analysing this data can detect how authentic post is. 

“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,” said Parag Agrawal, Twitter’s chief technology officer. 

The financial details of this deal have not been disclosed. However, Fabula co-founder Michael Bronstei; who is also the chair in machine learning and pattern recognition at Imperial College, is set to join Twitter as its head of graph deep learning research.

Last year Facebook bought London-based Bloomsbury AI to join its own machine learning project, so this isn’t the first time Silicon Valley has turned to the UK for AI expertise.