Facebook pledges to double its 10,000-person safety and security staff by end of 2018

Key Points
  • Facebook had 20,658 employees as of June 30.
  • Facebook has told investors that it plans to keep hiring staffers focused on security.
  • The announcement comes just ahead of Facebook's quarterly earnings report on Wednesday.
Colin Stretch, general counsel for Facebook arrives to testify before Senate Judiciary Crime and Terrorism Subcommittee hearing on on "ways to combat and reduce the amount of Russian propaganda and extremist content online," on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., October 31, 2017.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

Facebook, under intensifying pressure from legislators and consumers to clean up its site, is pledging to double the number of people it has working on issues related to safety and security.

Colin Stretch, a vice president and general counsel at Facebook, testified before senators on Tuesday alongside executives from Twitter and Google. He told them that Facebook's staff focused on sensitive security and community issues will grow to 20,000 by the end of next year.

"Today, across our safety, security, and product and community operation teams, we have about 10,000 people who are working on safety and security generally," Stretch said during a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing related to Russian interference in the 2016 election. "We're committed to investing more and doubling that number by the end of 2018."

That's an enormous personnel commitment for Facebook. As of June 30, the company had a total of 20,658 employees. The groups that specifically focus on terrorist content include thousands of workers broadly and 150 who spend all their time removing terrorism-related content, Stretch said.

In 2016, Facebook's total headcount grew from 12,691 employees to 17,048.

Facebook has already said that it would hire 3,000 content moderators to review and take down videos of violence and suicide attempts. The company also previously said it would hire 1,000 more people to review and take down ads.

This additional 10,000 is inclusive of the 4,000 already planned. The company said some of the new hires will be contractors.

The testimony comes just ahead of Facebook's quarterly earnings report on Wednesday, and amid a series of congressional hearings on the role of advertising companies in the election.

Facebook has told investors for some time that it would continue to invest in staffing, despite slowing revenue growth. In its last annual report, Facebook said rising costs were largely the result of increased hiring in research and development and sales and marketing.

Facebook shares were little changed in extended trading after closing at $180.06 on Tuesday.

— With reporting by CNBC's Julia Boorstin