San Francisco: Facebook on Thursday reported a sharp jump in profits in the past quarter, with gains in its user base and strong ad growth as the social network appeared to see no impact from a controversy on privacy.
Facebook said monthly active users in the first quarter rose to 2.2 billion, up 13 percent from a year earlier and matching expectations, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Facebook's business model relies on allowing advertisers to use customers' data to better target them and using the revenue from these ads to keep the social network available for free. But in the aggregate they have shrugged off the scandals, as have users. Daily active users also increased, including in Facebook's most popular market: the U.S. and Canada, where the company saw its first-ever decline last quarter. The numbers indicate the company does that extremely well: Facebook said it made an average $5.45 in advertising revenue on each user worldwide in the quarter, and an average $23.14 on ad sales for each user in the United States and Canada.
The company also reportedly employs 27,472 people - an increase of 48 percent when compared to 2017.
"While privacy and security are very serious issues that Facebook is rightly focusing on, as long as the return-on-investment is there, advertisers won't stop investing in Facebook altogether", he said.
But Facebook has been facing backlash about how it uses that data since news broke in March that the Trump-linked data-mining firm Cambridge Analytica had gained information on up to 87 million users.
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Despite gains Wednesday, Facebook's stock has slid 17 percent since an all-time high in February. His firm holds about 73,000 shares in Facebook.
The tool, which is also being tested in Canada, follows a scandal involving the political consultant Cambridge Analytica that has stoked concerns about privacy on the social network.
In a media interaction, a senior IT Ministry official aware of the development confirmed that the government is on the move to send out a strong signal to worldwide bodies operating in IT and data platform that any manipulation of data of Indians, in violation of law and the privacy norms, will be viewed "seriously".
"Most are disturbed at an individual level with what happened, but there's nothing that made Facebook overly toxic - yet", he said. "To each query, the company that faces probes in different parts of the world for illegal data mining, has provided one line answers which don't explain anything or provide any assurances". Facebook CFO David Wehner said that the company has recorded this hiring initiative under "sales and marketing", which he noted grew 51% year-over-year to $1.6 billion because of the "community investment" and "safety initiatives". "Facebook makes a lot of advertising money off this". The question for analysts will be whether the declines are truly Facebook's own design or a reflection of user preference.
However, contrary to stand taken by Cambridge Analytica, Facebook had said that around 5.62 lakh people in India could have been impacted by the data breach undertaken allegedly by the political consultancy.