Facebook profits soared 63 per cent to $5bn (£3.6bn) in the first three months of the year despite the company being engulfed in a data privacy scandal that has angered millions of users.
Allegations that up to 87 million Facebook users’ data was collected without their knowledge and then used by Cambridge Analytica to try to sway the US Presidential election and the Brexit vote, did little to slow the tech company’s rapid growth.
Total revenues jumped 49 per cent compared to the same three months last year, Facebook reported on Wednesday.
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Facebook has been scrambling to mollify angry politicians and reassure users that it will safeguard their personal information.
Amid the turmoil, observers were keenly watching the company’s user figures to assess the potential damage and see if the scandal would suppress Facebook’s growth.
Despite high-profile social media campaigns calling users to boycott Facebook, user numbers kept in line with expectations.
Those results again demonstrated the company’s ability to thrive amid controversy. It continued to grow over the last year despite a steady drumbeat of revelations that Russian-linked actors used the platform to try and fracture the electorate and promote Mr Trump ahead of the 2016 presidential election.
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The company’s value has plunged since the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke. Facebook shares slid 14 per cent as the company’s executives sought to contain the fallout. Both chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg have said they would be open to additional regulation, raising worries on Wall Street about additional costs
While heralding the company’s “strong start” to 2018, Mr Zuckerberg said in a conference call that the site was still grappling with how to prevent foreign interference and hate speech while shielding data.
“For most of our existence we’ve focused on all the good that connecting people can bring but it’s clear we didn’t do enough to prevent these tools from being used for harm as well”, Mr Zuckerberg said.
“We have a responsibility to keep our community safe and secure and we’re going to invest heavily to do that”, he added.