Facebook is hiring UK staff ahead of new London office launch

James Sillars, business reporter

Facebook says it is to create 1,000 new jobs in the UK this year, delivering a vote of confidence in the UK economy ahead of Brexit.

The tech firm issued a long-term commitment to the country as it made the announcement, in the run-up to a speech to be made in London later on Tuesday by its chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg.

Facebook said the new roles would take its UK workforce beyond 4,000 people.

More than half of the new staff would be in technology-focused roles, the company explained, including software engineering, product design, data science and product development of its Workplace and Whatsapp platforms.

Others would be part of its community integrity team, which builds the tools and technology the company uses to detect and remove harmful user content.

It has become a growing part of the business amid a backlash against social media communities globally over safety following a string of scandals.

Facebook said it was also looking to expand its London-based artificial intelligence, augmented/virtual reality and engineering infrastructure teams.

The company said the UK capital was already its biggest engineering hub outside of the US and the appointments would build key teams ahead of the opening of the first of two new office premises in King's Cross next year.

Ms Sandberg said: "The UK is a world leader in both innovation and creativity.

"That's why I'm excited that we plan to hire an additional 1,000 people in London this year alone. London is home to Facebook's biggest engineering hub outside the US and we're committed to investing here for the long-term."

The company argues that its platforms, which also include Instagram and Messenger, are a growth engine for UK businesses both large and small as engagement and selling spaces.

Its investment, the prime minister suggested, was "another sign of the strength of our dynamic tech sector".

Boris Johnson said: "The UK is successfully creating both homegrown firms at the forefront of cutting-age technologies, such as artificial intelligence, whilst attracting established global tech giants like Facebook.

"We are committed to making the UK the safest place in the world to be online, alongside being one of the best places for technology companies to be based."