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Facebook barely hurt by 2018 scandals as revenue surges

Social media giant Facebook showed no hint of stumbling after its terrible 2018 with surging profits and increased user numbers in its fourth quarter results.

Facebook reported total revenue was $US16.9bn, up 30% on the previous quarter while monthly user growth grew 2.1% to 2.32bn users.

Despite the global growth in monthly users, which was 9% up on last year, the stagnation in North American numbers continued with 242m active on the site, a number largely unchanged for a year.

The Asia-Pacific region, which includes Australia, continues to be Facebook’s fastest growing market with 30m users added in the last quarter.

Facebook achieved the revenue jump by pushing out more adverts with ad impressions up 34% across the company’s properties with Instagram driving the growth.

Mobile advertising made up the lion’s share of the company’s revenues accounting for approximately 93% of advertising revenue for the quarter of 2018, up from a 89% a year earlier. Interestingly, revenue per ad dipped 2%

Despite the good news, Facebook’s costs also exploded with headcount up 42% year-over-year to up 35,587 while expenses increased 62 % to $US9.1bn.

The numbers, particularly the monthly annual users, suggest Facebook’s terrible 2018 didn’t affect the company in the market place despite the hits to the company’s reputation during the year.

During 2018, it was revealed research firm Cambridge Analytica had harvested the personal data of 87m users which was later used for disinformation campaigns during the 2016 US elections.

In June, the company started its fight back against the year’s negative publicity with its ‘together now’ campaign, promoting what it does to fight misinformation and online misbehaviour.

At the end of 2018 it was revealed by Facebook’s outgoing comms head, Eliott Schrage that Facebook had hired a PR firm to discredit the service’s critics including supriously linking some to financier George Soros.

Facebook hired former UK deputy prime minister Nick Clegg as its head of communications to replace Schrage late last year.

In October, Futurebrand’s 2018 brand sentiment index found the service had fallen 37 places over the past year, with the brand suffering issues in the areas including trust, admiration, passion, innovation and thought leadership.

That same month  Facebook’s vice-president of global marketing solutions, Carolyn Everson, told Mumbrella the culture within the social network is changing for the better with a greater emphasis on transparency.

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