Facebook reveals $9bn profit despite whistleblower claims

Facebook’s Q3 earnings show a profit of $9bn, up 17% from last year, with user numbers also rising

Facebook HQ in Menlo Park, California                                 
Facebook’s daily active users hit 1.93 billion, an increase of 6% from last year – Photo: Shutterstock
                                

Social media giant Facebook has posted third-quarter earnings showing a profit of $9bn, up 17% from $7.8bn last year.

The network’s daily active users were also on the rise as it hit 1.93 billion users on average, an increase of 6% year-on-year, with its monthly active users at 2.91 billion, also showing progress of 6% year-on-year.

Facebook recorded a total revenue of $29bn, a 35% increase from last year’s $21bn. The third-quarter report states that the company expects its yearly revenue to be in the range of $31.5bn to $34bn.

Data privacy concerns

Despite recent growth, Facebook has been hit by strict data regulations surrounding Apple’s privacy rules from its iOS 14 update earlier this year. As a result, the tech giant expects its non-ads revenue to be down in the fourth quarter against last year’s strong holiday shopping season. 

Facebook will also begin to include results from its Facebook Reality Labs in its reporting segment, as it continues to invest in augmented and virtual reality products to keep pace with the next generation of online social experience.

The firm confirmed that the addition of Facebook Reality Labs will reduce its overall operating profit in 2021 by approximately $10 billion.

“We made good progress this quarter and our community continues to grow,” said Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder and CEO. “I'm excited about our roadmap, especially around creators, commerce, and helping to build the metaverse.”

Safety vs profit

Despite its impressive third quarter, Facebook faces new scrutiny from whistleblower and former employee Frances Haugen after she released several documents highlighting the inner workings of the tech giant. 

Haugen had initially shared the documents with the Wall Street Journal before a series of media publications picked up the news. She appeared before MPs earlier this week to testify about her experiences at the firm, and claimed that Facebook prioritised profit over user safety. She also warned that Instagram was “more dangerous than other forms of social media”.

“Instagram is about social comparison and about bodies... about people's lifestyles, and that's what ends up being worse for kids. I am deeply worried that it may not be possible to make Instagram safe for a 14-year-old, and I sincerely doubt that it is possible to make it safe for a 10-year-old,” she added.

On Monday, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerburg rebutted the claims as he spoke with investors on a conference call: “What we are seeing is a coordinated effort to selectively use leaked documents to paint a false picture of our company.”

Further reading: Facebook’s Diem aims to launch digital currency pilot this year

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