“We had a strong quarter and our business and community continue to grow,” was the lead statement from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg last night, as his company revealed its latest impressive financial results.
Revenues were up 28% year-on-year to $16.62bn in the second quarter of 2019, with the social network reporting a $2.62bn profit for the quarter – and that includes a $2bn legal expense relating to a settlement with the US Federal Trade Commission. Oh yes, that was announced yesterday too: “Facebook, Inc. will pay a record-breaking $5 billion penalty, and submit to new restrictions and a modified corporate structure that will hold the company accountable for the decisions it makes about its users’ privacy,” announced the FTC, noting that this was “the largest ever imposed on any company for violating consumers’ privacy and almost 20 times greater than the largest privacy or data security penalty ever imposed worldwide”.
But this may not be the only hammer to drop from the US regulator. “ In June 2019, we were informed by the FTC that it had opened an antitrust investigation of our company,” announced Facebook within its financials. This is separate to an already-announced antitrust review of big technology companies more generally by the US Department of Justice.
Clouds gathering, then, but Facebook continues to post big numbers. Its daily active users were up 8% year-on-year to 1.59 billion, while its monthly active users were up 8% to 2.41 billion. “We estimate that more than 2.1 billion people now use Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, or Messenger (our ‘Family’’ of services) every day on average, and more than 2.7 billion people use at least one of our Family of services each month,” added the company.