Facebook posts strong profits as users grow 9%

Facebook Privacy Updates and Interest Based Ad Model

Ali Mogharabi: Facebook's fourth-quarter results easily beat expectations as the daily average user count grew sequentially in the largest ad spending markets, US and Europe, even though the firm remains in the midst of addressing data security and privacy issues. The company had revenue of $16.91 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts' expectations of $16.40 billion.

Facebook's headcount grew by 42 percent over the year, to 35,587, and the company spent Dollars 13.92 billion on capital expenditure in the year, more than double the 2017 figure.

Shares of the social media network rose almost 12 percent to $168 in trading before the bell on Thursday, with at least 17 analysts raising their price targets on the stock. Net income increased 61% to $6.88 billion and EPS rose 65% to $2.38, beating the analyst consensus by $0.19.

While Stories across all its products emerged as a strong source of revenue, Facebook CEO Zuckerberg emphasised that there are plans to bring new products to bring "major improvements to people's lives".

Zuckerberg also provided a few examples as to why users would want a combined service, highlighting awkward cases where someone might use the marketplace feature on Facebook, but then have to jump over to WhatsApp for messaging.

Facebook ads, and those of larger rival Google, are still more relevant and effective than most other options, precisely because the companies collect so much information on activity across the internet and beyond.

Bernoff questioned whether Facebook was positioning itself for the rise of smart speakers using the likes of Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.

But it has also been battered by criticism that it was more focused on growth than protecting users or thwarting deception, bullying and harassment. "Most of Facebook's advertisers have no other place to go with a return on investment this good". The company said eventually, it will no longer report how many people use the social network.

The hire comes at the ideal time, as Facebook recently announced its plans to merge Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp leaving some questioning whether user privacy and data will be at risk. In countries where WhatsApp is dominant, for example, being able to message a Facebook Marketplace seller via WhatsApp instead of Messenger might be more convenient.

The company also warned that revenue growth will slow because of shifts in its advertising business.

Facebook was the most widely used platform once and no doubt everyone used to love it.

Messaging is the area growing most quickly, Zuckerberg says.

In an attempt to redeem the market reputation of its platform amidst several controversies, Facebook has roped Nate Cardozo - a long-time Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) counsel - as the Privacy Policy Manager for WhatsApp. Why do you think Facebook seems so indestructible?

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