Social media giant Twitter announced on 3 June that it had acquired London-based deep learning start-up Fabula AI in an attempt to boost its machine learning expertise, feeding into an internal research group led by the company’s senior director of engineering Sandeep Pandey.
The research group’s stated aim is to “continually advance the state of machine learning, inside and outside Twitter”, focusing on “a few key strategic areas such as natural language processing, reinforcement learning, [machine learning] ethics, recommendation systems, and graph deep learning”.
Fabula AI’s researchers specialise in employing graph deep learning to detect network manipulation, applying machine learning techniques to network-structured data in order to analyse very large and complex datasets describing relations and interactions, and extract signals in ways that traditional machine learning techniques are not capable of doing.
Twitter described the acquisition as a “strategic investment” and a “key driver” as the company works to “help people feel safe on Twitter and help them see relevant information”. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“Specifically, by studying and understanding the Twitter graph, comprised of the millions of Tweets, Retweets and Likes shared on Twitter every day, we will be able to improve the health of the conversation, as well as products including the timeline, recommendations, the explore tab and the onboarding experience,” the social network said.
Fabula was founded by Michael Bronstein, Damon Mannion, Federico Monti and Ernesto Schmitt. It is led today by Bronstein – who currently serves as chief scientist – and Monti, now the company’s chief technologist, who began their collaboration together while at the University of Lugano, Switzerland.
“We are really excited to join the ML research team at Twitter, and work together to grow their team and capabilities,” Bronstein said in a post on Twitter’s blog. “Specifically, we are looking forward to applying our graph deep learning techniques to improving the health of the conversation across the service.”
Bronstein is currently the Chair in Machine Learning & Pattern Recognition at Imperial College, and will remain in that position while leading graph deep learning research at Twitter. He will be joined by long-time collaborators from academia (including current or former students) who research advances in geometric deep learning.
Twitter – along with other social media platforms and internet search engines – has recently come under fire from the media, academics and politicians for its perceived failure to properly deal with abuse and hate on its platform. It has previously been criticized for failing to take action against accounts that spread hate speech and still does not have a clear policy in place for dealing with white supremacist accounts.