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Facebook said Wednesday its quarterly profit climbed to an all-time record $6.9 billion as it boosted its global user base despite scandals that have dented the leading social network’s image.
Revenue soared 30 percent from a year ago to $16.9 billion while the number of people using Facebook monthly rose nine percent to 2.32 billion, the company said in its fourth-quarter update.
Net profit for Facebook, which makes most of its money from online advertising, was up a strong 61 percent from the same period last year.
“Our community and business continue to grow,” co-founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said in an earnings call.
Facebook shares jumped 11.5 percent to $167.67 in after-market trades that followed the release of the earnings.
The latest update showed Facebook increased its user base both in the United States and Europe, where the social network has faced challenges over data protection scandals.
“With these results, Facebook has clearly demonstrated that the challenges of 2018 have not had a lasting impact on its ability to increase both revenues and usage,” said analyst Debra Aho Williamson of the research firm eMarketer.
“Advertisers are clearly still very reliant on Facebook.”
The fact that daily active usage in North America and Europe increased was a “surprise” after the flatness seen in the US and Canada last year and the falloff that took place in Europe, according to the analyst.
Facebook has pledged to hire thousands of employees and invest in new technologies to respond to concerns about manipulation and abuse, and to take data protection more seriously.
The number of employees as of December 31 was 35,587, an increase of 42 percent year-over-year.
“We’ve fundamentally changed how we run our company to focus on the biggest social issues, and we’re investing more to build new and inspiring ways for people to connect,” Zuckerberg said.
Facebook executives warned that expenses this year are expected to soar 40 to 50 percent as it continues to invest in data centres, new products, and security.
According to eMarketer, Facebook’s share of the global digital ad market will be 20.5 percent of an overall $327.28 billion spent in 2019.
But analysts say the trust issue is crucial for Facebook if it wants to move forward in its mission to connect the world.