Facebook’s business continues to fire on all cylinders even as the company faces growing scrutiny from regulators over its acquisitions and from critics for the role its platform may have played in spreading lies about the US presidential election.
The company said Wednesday that it posted a profit of $11.2 billion in the final three months of last year, an increase of more than 50% from the year prior. Facebook’s revenue rose 33% to roughly $28 billion during the quarter, showing the durability of its core advertising business despite the pandemic.
On a conference call with analysts, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook is considering steps it can take to reduce the amount of political content in the News Feed. “One of the top pieces of feedback that we’re hearing from our community right now is that people don’t want politics and fighting to take over their experience on our services,” Zuckerberg said.
Ahead of the US presidential election, Facebook stopped recommending civic and political groups to its users. Now, it plans to keep them out of recommendations for the long term globally, Zuckerberg said.
When combining Facebook’s various apps, including Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp, the company reported 3.3 billion monthly active users, an increase of 14% year-over-year.
“We had a strong end to the year as people and businesses continued to use our services during these challenging times,” Zuckerberg said in a statement.
While Facebook ended the year on a strong note, it once again warned of challenges for the year ahead, including “the “evolving regulatory landscape” as well as looming iPhone software changes that it expects will hurt its advertising business.
Dozens of states and the federal government sued Facebook last month, alleging the social media giant has abused its dominance in the digital marketplace and engaged in anti-competitive behavior.
Facebook also continues to grapple with the spread of harmful content on its platform. Posts promoting violence during inauguration week circulated on Facebook despite its crackdown since the January 6 Capitol riots, a tech watchdog group found.
“Despite the negative publicity and antitrust cases, it appears there is nothing that can stop what is arguably the world’s most important advertising platform,” said Jesse Cohen, senior analyst at Investing.com.