Facebook posts profits despite data scandal

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The social network's quarterly revenues grew 49% year-on-year to $11.9 billion, while its earnings per share (EPS) was $1.69 - well in excess of the predicted $1.35. "More than 2.2 billion people now use Facebook every month and more than 1.4 billion people use it daily", Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted late Wednesday.

"We feel really good around the data business, especially with all the conversations going on, and we will continue to hold ourselves publicly accountable to make sure that we fulfil that fundamental right of privacy", he said. "But we also need to keep building new tools to help people connect, strengthen our communities, and bring the world closer together", he added, repeating his favorite refrains.

Facebook's shares rose 6.8 per cent in after-hours trading to US$170.56.

"Despite negative headlines about Facebook's unmatched reach, Cambridge Analytica's allegedly improper use of Facebook data on up to 90 million users, the calls to "#deleteFacebook" and two days of Congressional hearings for CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the company emerged with almost $5 billion in net income for the quarter, up 62.8 percent from a year earlier.

Daniel Ives, an analyst with GBH Insights, said in an investor note Wednesday that the user figures were "a relief given fears of missing this number were running rampant".

At the time, Wozniak and other executives appeared to be preaching to the choir, riding a wave of fury and disillusionment that kicked off when Cambridge Analytica was revealed to have pilfered data from millions of Facebook users.

"It was an important moment for the company to hear the feedback and to show what we're doing", Zuckerberg said of his first appearance on Capitol Hill. Many users said they would delete their accounts, raising fears that the service was facing a major crisis.

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Facebook strong earnings report comes as it grapples with a data privacy scandal that strikes at how the huge social network makes money from what it knows about people.

To deal with the rapid growth, Facebook has been hiring more and more people.

Facebook faces a specter of regulation at home and overseas.

Digital platforms are now rolling out changes under the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which allows users to have more control over their data and imposes larger penalties for companies that breach the rules.

Facebook announced last week it would begin rolling out changes to how it handles private data to comply with forthcoming European Union rules. Facebook's troubles with Russian election meddlers, "fake news " and misused data have dominated headlines globally.

David Wehner, Chief Financial Officer broke down a portion of those security and safety costs, telling analysts that the sales and marketing expense growth of 51% compared with the year-earlier quarter was driven by the "community operations investment".

Facebook is boosting spending - aside from its efforts to regain the public's trust it is shelling out for content deals for its new video section, Facebook Watch, and investing in R&D in artificial intelligence and its hardware businesses.