Facebook still cashing in on your data as sales surge

Messenger And Facebook: Illustration

Facebook reported Wednesday that it reversed its first ever decline in daily active users in the U.S. and Canada during the first three months of 2018 despite the backlash from a massive data scandal.

Analysts estimated that Facebook would report 1.45 billion daily active users the first three months of this year, compared with 1.4 billion the previous quarter.

Of this, mobile advertising revenue represented 91 per cent of total revenue during the first quarter, up 6 per cent from Q2, 2017.

But advertisers have shrugged off the scandals in the aggregate. Under the new rules, Facebook users could potentially limit the amount of data they share with the company, which could make it tougher for marketers to target their online ads as well as before. Daily active users were 1.45 billion, on average, for March 2018, an increase of 13 per cent year-on-year.

Another area of growth is the company's headcount, which increased by 48% to 27,742.

"So long as profits continue to grow at a rapid rate, investors will accept that higher spending to ensure privacy is warranted", Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter said.

On April 4, Facebook Inc had confirmed that the scale of the data leaks of personal information of its users with political analyst firm Cambridge Analytica is estimated at around 87 million people, a considerable increase from the 50 million people reported earlier.

So will this result from Facebook be enough to steady the fragile U.S. share markets?

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Facebook's chief financial officer, Dave Wehner, warned that GDPR could lead to a fall in users and revenue in Europe, particularly as people start tightening up their accounts to prevent so much targeted advertising. Still, the company's persistent growth points to the strength of its digital-ad business, despite growing concerns from advertisers, users and lawmakers in the past year.

The information and technology ministry headed by Ravishankar Prasad had sent a "provide details on activities and data mined" notice to Cambridge Analytica and Facebook last month. 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".

However, "from now on", says the video, "Facebook will do more to keep you safe and protect your privacy". "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".

"The impact of the business is much more muted because we're still seeing that there's lots of post engagement", he said. But he doesn't expect a major impact on Facebook revenue.

On a conference call, chief financial officer David Wehner said the average monthly and daily user growth in Europe could be flat or down as the European Union brings tough new privacy regulations on May 25.

The bump in figures also testified to the resiliency of the company's targeted ad-based business model.

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

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