Fri, Nov 03, 2017 - Page 10 News List

Society trumps profits: Zuckerberg

WARNING:Facebook’s chief executive said the company’s efforts to monitor problematic content would cut into its revenue, which hit US$10.33 billion in the third quarter

AP, NEW YORK

Sean Edgett, acting general counsel with Twitter Inc, center, speaks as Colin Stretch, general counsel with Facebook Inc, left, and Kent Walker, vice president and general counsel with Google Inc, right, listen during a US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on social media influence in last year’s US elections in Washington on Wednesday. The top Democrat on the committee berated lawyers for social media giants Facebook, Twitter and Google for a lethargic response to Russian interference in US politics, as the companies` lawyers faced a second day of grilling at the US Congress.

Photo: Bloomberg

Facebook Inc chief executive Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday said that the company was serious about preventing abuse and that its investments in keeping “problematic content” off its social network would affect its profitability.

“Protecting our community is more important than maximizing our profits,” Zuckerberg said in a statement.

Facebook reported that its third-quarter profit soared 79 percent to US$4.71 billion.

The company’s top lawyer has spent the past two days testifying to the US Congress alongside executives from Twitter Inc and Google about Russia-linked accounts’ manipulation of their platforms.

Lawmakers criticized Facebook for not doing more to stop Russian actors from interfering in US political discourse.

Facebook has said that content from a Russian “troll farm,” the Internet Research Agency, potentially reached as many as 126 million users.

Zuckerberg on Wednesday acknowledged the problem.

The company’s growth does not matter “if our services are used in a way that doesn’t bring people closer together or if the foundation of our society is undermined by foreign interference,” he said on a call with investors to discuss Facebook’s quarterly earnings report. “I’ve expressed how upset I am that the Russians tried to use our tools to sow mistrust.”

He said Facebook is working to strengthen the security of its social-media platform that “goes beyond elections.”

Changes are focused on preventing abuse and harmful content, removing fake news, hate speech and other “problematic content,” Zuckerberg said, adding that it is good for business, as Facebook users do not want fake news, hate speech or bullying.

Facebook has said that 10,000 people are working to maintain safety and security today, and it would double those teams by the end of next year, adding that these workers would not all be full-time at Facebook and would include contractors.

Facebook said its third-quarter net income was US$1.59 per share, topping expectations. An average estimate of 19 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of US$1.29 per share.

The Menlo Park, California, company’s revenue grew 47 percent to US$10.33 billion. Wall Street predicted US$9.88 billion.

Facebook continued racking up users. Monthly users rose 16 percent to 2.07 billion. Daily users also climbed 16 percent to 1.37 billion.

Revenue from mobile advertisements made up 88 percent of total advertising revenue, up from 84 percent the previous year.

The company has said it is getting better at targeting ads at its users, which has helped push up how much it charges for advertisements.

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