Facebook ends 2018 with record profits

Facebook ends 2018 with record profits

Facebook finished 2018 with record profits despite a string of privacy scandals and public relations crises that have brought the company under tough regulatory scrutiny.

The social network brought in $6.8 billion in profits in the last three months of 2018, a 61 percent increase over the fourth quarter of the previous year, Facebook announced on Wednesday.

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And the company now says that its services — including WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram — now count about 2.7 billion users, 2 billion of whom use at least one of the programs every day.

"Our community and business continue to grow," CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergHillicon Valley: New York says goodbye to Amazon's HQ2 | AOC reacts: 'Anything is possible' | FTC pushes for record Facebook fine | Cyber threats to utilities on the rise Schiff calls out Facebook, Google over anti-vaccination information Senators demand answers from Facebook on paying teens for data MORE said in a statement. "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."

Facebook brought in $16.9 billion in revenue for the quarter and $55.8 billion for the entire year, a 37 percent increase from 2017. The numbers beat analysts' expectations and sent shares up more than 8 percent in after-hours trading.

The strong earnings report shows that the #DeleteFacebook campaign has failed to make a noticeable dent on the company's finances and that advertisers aren't willing to abandon the platform's massive user base and microtargeting tools.

Still, the privacy issues plaguing the company have angered lawmakers and raised the possibility of a large fine from the Federal Trade Commission over its investigation into Facebook's handling of the Cambridge Analytica incident.

And members of Congress who have been pushing to regulate the data collection of Facebook and the rest of Silicon Valley may see the record profits as further evidence that they need to intervene.

The earnings report came the same day TechCrunch reported that Facebook paid teenagers and young adults to download an app that allowed the company to monitor their phone usage to compile data on mobile app trends. Apple responded by revoking Facebook's ability to run internal apps for its employees on iOS.

Zuckerberg said he was committed to engaging with the company's critics in 2019 and to improving upon its efforts to address users' concerns.

"We're ready to work with people to understand our role and move towards good outcomes — whether that's regulation on content or data, cooperation on shared threats, working openly to make sure AI best serves people, or just standing up for the kind of open and connected world that we all want to see," he said in a call with investors.