Facebook’s Privacy Scandal Appears to Have Little Effect on Its Bottom Line


On Wednesday, Facebook showed that — as with past scandals — the controversy is so far doing little to hurt its bottom line. The Silicon Valley company reported a 63 increase in profit and a 49 percent jump in revenue for the first quarter, driven by continued growth in its mobile advertising business. Mobile advertising now represents more than 90 percent of Facebook’s advertising revenue.

The earnings report followed weeks of tumult for Facebook, after a controversy erupted last month when The New York Times and other news outlets reported that millions of Facebook users’ private information had been harvested by Cambridge Analytica, a political firm with ties to the Trump campaign. The revelations drew alarm from regulators and lawmakers and Mr. Zuckerberg appeared at two congressional hearings in Washington this month to answer questions about Facebook’s role and responsibilities.

Facebook faces other challenges. Next month, strict new European privacy regulations are set to take effect, which require tech companies to seek people’s consent before accessing their data. Facebook said that the rules, known as the General Data Protection Regulation, could lead to a decline in use in Europe.

Announcing changes to its News Feed that demoted news in favor of updates shared by users’ friends and family. The company said then that it had experienced its first decline in the number of people who use Facebook on a daily basis in the United States and Canada; it also reported a dip in the amount of time spent on the platform. Mr. Zuckerberg said at the time that the changes would make Facebook more valuable over the long term. On Wednesday, Mr. Zuckerberg said that the News Feed changes had worked largely as expected, increasing certain types of friends-and-family sharing while decreasing passive consumption of videos. Mr. Zuckerberg also spoke about his trip to Washington to testify before Congress, saying it represented an “important moment” for the company. His testimony, which included fielding questions from members of Congress about Russian interference, political censorship and Facebook’s role in the developing world, was largely seen as a success within Facebook. Lawmakers were less enchanted. On Wednesday, Democrats on the House’s Energy and Commerce Committee sent Facebook a list of follow-up questions that Mr. Zuckerberg had declined or been unable to answer during the hearings.

Representative Frank Pallone, Democratic of New Jersey, said that he hoped Mr. Zuckerberg would respond promptly to the questions, noting that Facebook “has yet to fully account for all of the data that it has on both users and nonusers and how it uses that data.”

From www.nytimes.com