Published: Sun, February 03, 2019
Money | By Ethel Goodwin

Facebook profit climbs along with ranks of users

Facebook profit climbs along with ranks of users

SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook said Wednesday quarterly profit climbed to $6.9 billion as its ranks of users continued to grow despite scandals that have dented the leading social network´s image.

Despite on-going concerns over the firm's data policies, Facebook said the number of monthly active users was up 9% on this time a year ago, reaching 2.32 billion people.

Facebook's increased its user base in the USA and Europe, with profits up $6.9bn (£5.3bn) despite a year of scandals plaguing the social media giant.

Shares in the tech giant, which makes most of its money from online advertising, jumped 11.5% to $167.67 (£127.80) in after-market trades following the release of the earnings. The company also seeks to grow the service as a standalone platform - not just something that Facebook users access through their news feeds. "It is scrutinized and criticized for its every move", eMarketer principal analyst Debra Aho Williamson said.

Facebook has vowed to invest in staff and new technology to address concerns about data protection and manipulation. This is about 9 percent increase year over year.

Co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, 34, is the undisputed leader as chairman and chief executive.

The rise was steady despite Facebook's involvement in last year's high-profile privacy and safety issues.

"Between the intellectual tech press and the Washington elite, there's a huge disconnect between the news and what the rest of the world is doing", said Richard Greenfield, an analyst at BTIG LLC in NY.

But it has also been battered by criticism that it was more focused on growth than protecting users or thwarting deception, bullying and harassment.

Besides this fact, Zuckerberg does not doubt Facebook's power of improving people's lives and transforming the world. So the more that Facebook can combine data about a user of WhatsApp, for example, with what it knows about the same user on one of its other apps, the easier it will be to track and target that person across platforms.

A report last week claimed Mark Zuckerberg was planning on merging the underlying platform of Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram messaging into one. "I'm going to put myself out there more than I've been comfortable with and engage more in some of these debates about the future, the tradeoffs we face, and where we want to go", Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post outlining his goals.

Advertising revenues for 2018 were a staggering $55bn.

"Hundreds of millions of people are using Marketplace on Facebook now, and a lot of people are using that in countries where WhatsApp is the primary messaging app that they use".

Zuckerberg has consistently defended the social network's business of keeping the service free by targeting ads based on interests, adamant the social network does not sell people's data.

"I do feel like we have started to turn a corner and have a clear plan for what we need to do here now".

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