Facebook reports strong Q4 earnings despite year of troubles

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During the same quarter in the prior year, the business earned $1.44 earnings per share.

Revenue soared 30 percent from a year ago to $16.9 billion while the number of people using it monthly rose nine percent to 2.32 billion, Facebook said in its fourth quarter update.

The monthly active users (MAUs) increased 9 percent year-over-year to 2.32 billion as of December 31, 2018, while daily active users (DAUs) witnessed the same 9-percent growth to 1.52 billion during the same period, Facebook said.

Facebook shares jumped 7.7 percent to $161.99 in after-market trades that followed release of the earnings.

"Our community and business continue to grow. It is scrutinized and criticized for its every move", eMarketer principal analyst Debra Aho Williamson said.

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.

Facebook has grown the number of staff 42 percent in the past year and total headcount is now sitting at 35,587 people.

Facebook is reportedly working to combine Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram messaging into a single, unified platform, but don't expect that system to hit anytime soon: CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said that the project - "to whatever term we end up doing this" - would likely not show up until 2020 and beyond.

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"Between the intellectual tech press and the Washington elite, there's a huge disconnect between the news and what the rest of the world is doing", said Richard Greenfield, an analyst at BTIG LLC in NY.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (C) testifies at a joint hearing of the Senate Judiciary and Commerce committees on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., United States, on April 10, 2018.

But it has also been battered by criticism that it was more focused on growth than protecting users or thwarting deception, bullying and harassment.

"If we're committed to serving everyone, then we need a service that is affordable to everyone", Zuckerberg wrote in The Wall Street Journal.

With such figures, it is easy to imagine the interest of better unifying its 3 platforms (Facebook social network, Instagram and WhatsApp).

Zuckerberg also highlighted that there are plans to messaging the centre of users' social experience in new ways. When an advertiser uses Facebook Ads Manager, it has the option to select one or more placements for its ads. The executive also highlighted the Stories format, which got expanded from Instagram to Facebook's native social networking platform and the Messenger app as well as reached to WhatsApp in the form of Status, is aiming to monetise "at the same levels" as the News Feed.

Zuckerberg controls 60 percent of voting shares through a dual-class stock structure in the California-based social networking giant which is turning 15 in February this year.

"The internet is a massive force for change, and we are at the center of a lot of the debates that brings", Zuckerberg said.