Facebook profits soar despite multiple scandals

Facebook appears to have weathered a string of controversies — over foreign election meddling, fake news, shady advertising and misuse of data — with hardly any affect on its bottom line so far.

Facebook’s first-quarter revenue, a major chunk of which comes from ads, jumped 49 per cent to $ 11.97 billion (U.S.), and profit climbed 63 per cent to nearly $ 5 billion, according to a report released Wednesday, the first since news of the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke in March.

The lucrative social media company also seems to have survived the subsequent #DeleteFacebook online trend, as the number of daily and monthly users, and posts also surged. More than 1.45 billion people check Facebook at least once a day, and the company said it has 2.2 billion monthly users, representing a 13 per cent spike from the same time a year earlier.

Suggestions that users would log off for good or advertisers would desert the platform after it revealed 87 million people — including 622,161 Canadians — may have had their personal information scraped by an app developer without their permission and passed along to U.K.-based political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, which is accused of failing to delete the data.

Since then, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has apologized for the breach and acknowledged the company did not do enough to protect people’s personal data, and earlier this month was grilled by U.S. lawmakers at congressional hearings on Capitol Hill.

Facebook has also made changes to its rules aimed at improving its privacy practices.

“We’re going to keep building Facebook to not only be a service that people love to use, but also one that’s good for people and good for society,” Zuckerberg said on an earnings conference call late Wednesday.

The company’s shares jumped as high as $ 167.86 (U.S.) after closing unchanged at $ 159.69 in regular New York trading. The stock has dropped about 14 per cent since March. Capital expenditures reached $ 2.81 billion in the quarter as the Silicon Valley giant increases its spending on security, video content and new technologies.

With files from Bloomberg News

TORONTO STAR

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