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Facebook keeps earning despite data privacy scandal

Facebook has reported first quarter revenue of $11.96 billion, up 49 per cent from last year despite the fallout from a scandal that saw data from 87 million of its users shared with Cambridge Analytica.

The scandal, at least for now, hasn’t resulted in any significant loss in users for the California-based social media giant. Daily active users were 1.45 billion, on average, for March 2018, an increase of 13 per cent year-on-year. Monthly active users were 2.20 billion as of March 31, also a year-on-year increase of 13 per cent.

Facebook reported cash reserves of US$43.96 billion at the end of Q1 with capital expenditure for the period hitting US$2.81 billion. Mobile advertising revenue on the network represented about 91 per cent of ad revenue for Q1, up from around 85 per cent in Q1, 2017.

The Facebook data privacy scandal widened in early April when it was revealed that the personal information of up to 87 million users, mostly in the United States, may have been improperly shared with political consultancy, Cambridge Analytica. This was up from a previous estimate of more than 50 million.

The leak also included 311,127 users of the social media network in Australia.

Facebook’s shares rose 6.8 per cent in after-hours trading to US$170.56. This is still below the US$195.32 peak that the social media organisation hit in January.

Facebook’s under fire chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, said on Thursday: “Despite facing important challenges, our community and business are off to a strong start in 2018. We are taking a broader view of our responsibility and investing to make sure our services are used for good.

“But we also need to keep building new tools to help people connect, strengthen our communities and bring the world closer together.”

Early this month, Zuckerberg fended off questions from US senators about how the organisation could be regulated more closely.

In late March, Zuckerberg admitted his company had made mistakes in how it handled data belonging to its users and promised steps to restrict developers’ access to such information.

IDG Insider

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