Facebook told do more to tackle online abuse in meeting with Johnson

By Jamie Harris, PA Science Technology Reporter

Facebook’s second in command has been told that social media companies must do more to tackle online abuse, in a meeting with Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel.

Downing Street said the Prime Minister and Ms Patel, together with Culture Secretary Baroness Morgan, met chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg in No 10 following Facebook’s announcement that it was hiring 1,000 more staff in the UK.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “While there has been progress in this area there is still more to do.

“The Home Secretary made clear that we need to be able to track down terrorists, child abuse and other types of offenders and to work with social media to achieve that.

Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, with colleagues outside 10 Downing Street (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

“The Home Secretary said we need to be able to shut down online space to these kind of people in order to protect our citizens.”

Stopping in the UK ahead of a visit to Davos for the World Economic Forum, Ms Sandberg announced the firm would hire 1,000 new people before the end of the year.

A “large number” will work in the teams that develop technology to remove harmful content.

The additions will take its total workforce in London up to 4,000 by the end of the year, Ms Sandberg said on Tuesday morning.

More than half the recruits are expected to work in technology-focused roles across software engineering, product design and data science, as well as developing WhatsApp, and Workplace, its business-centred version of Facebook.

Ms Sandberg announced that Facebook plans to hire 1,000 more people in the UK by the end of 2020 (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

London is Facebook’s biggest engineering hub outside the US, and the company is building new office space in King’s Cross, due to open in late 2021.

Ms Sandberg said that despite “uncertainty” because of Brexit, the social network remained keen to invest in the UK, calling it “a world leader in both innovation and creativity”.

“London is now our biggest engineering hub outside the US,” she said.

“It is home to our community integrity team that is doing such important work to keep people safe on our platforms, working to take down harmful content and keep people safe.

“We know there’s been some uncertainty about Britain’s future (but) we believe the UK is an important place for us to invest.”