Facebook at an all time high


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Facebook witnesses higher profits, more friends.

Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg has defended the social network's business model of using targeted advertising. (Photo: AFP)

Facebook said Wednesday that quarterly profit climbed to an all-time record USD 6.9 billion as it boosted its global user base despite scandals that have dented the leading social network's image.

Revenue soared 30 per cent from a year ago to USD 16.9 billion while the number of people using Facebook monthly rose nine per cent to 2.32 billion, the company said in its fourth quarter update. Net profit for Facebook, which makes most of its money from online advertising, was up a strong 61 per cent from the same period last year.

"Our community and business continue to grow," co-founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said in an earnings call. Facebook shares jumped 11.5 per cent to USD 167.67 in after-market trades that followed release of the earnings.

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. “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," Zuckerberg said.

Facebook estimated that approximately 2.7 billion people use its "family" of services including Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger, and its core social network. The company faces demographic challenges as younger users shift to other platforms, seeing Facebook as less cool than it once was.

Visual social network Instagram has been a bright spot for Facebook, with use and revenue rising. Analysts are watching to see how well Facebook's other services, including Instagram, messaging services WhatsApp and Messenger and its Oculus virtual reality division, play into its fortunes.

"Messaging is an area that is growing most quickly, and this year people are going to feel these apps becoming the center of their social experience in more ways," Zuckerberg said.

Facebook is working to let people send messages to one another no matter which of the company's messaging apps they are using, with an increasing emphasis on making content encrypted and ephemeral, according to Zuckerberg.

As it approaches its 15th anniversary, Facebook has been able to keep revenue momentum thanks to its unique advertising model that allows marketers to reach specific segments of users. More than 90 million small businesses use Facebook, according to the social network.

"The internet is a massive force for change, and we are at the centre of a lot of the debates that brings. I do feel like we have started to turn a corner and have a clear plan for what we need to do here now," Zuckerberg said.