Facebook sees strong user development as coronavirus pandemic develops unpredictability


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Facebook reported its first-quarter revenues on Wednesday.

Angela Lang/CNET

For the most current news and info about the coronavirus pandemic, check out the WHO site.

Facebook’s first-quarter earnings and user numbers beat Wall Street expectations Wednesday, even as the social networks giant warned that the coronavirus pandemic has actually triggered “unprecedented uncertainty” for the future of its advertisement company.

Facebook has actually seen a rise in individuals utilizing the social media to remain in touch with friends and family throughout lockdowns created to slow the spread of COVID-19, the breathing health problem triggered by the infection. That’s offered the business, which has actually been afflicted by numerous personal privacy scandals, an opportunity to reveal that its services can be utilized for great. 

Facebook stated a record variety of individuals are utilizing the social media however that the coronavirus break out slowed need for marketing in the last 3 weeks of the very first quarter. The social media saw a reduction in advertisements from travel and vehicle companies, which have actually been struck hard as individuals remain at house. The business stated regular monthly active users increased to 2.6 billion, up 10% from the very same quarter a year back. Analysts anticipated Facebook to report 2.56 regular monthly active users. Nearly 3 billion individuals utilized among Facebook’s apps, consisting of Instagram and WhatsApp.

At the very same time, Facebook has actually needed to weather difficulties developed by the break out. Production of Facebook’s customer hardware items, such as its Oculus virtual truth headsets and its Portal video chat gadgets, has actually been impacted by the infection. Coronavirus false information likewise continues to spread out on Facebook, requiring the business to increase efforts to moderate material that might damage individuals’s health and wellness. 

In a declaration, the business stated it anticipated its company efficiency to be impacted by concerns beyond its control, consisting of the length of shelter-in-place orders, the efficiency of procedures to promote the economy and the worth of the United States dollar. 

“I remain very concerned that this health emergency and therefore the economic fallout will last longer than people are currently anticipating,” Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg stated throughout a call with experts. At the very same time, he’s likewise fretted that resuming particular locations too rapidly will result in future break outs and longer-term health and financial effects. 

Facebook reported $17.7 billion in earnings from January to March, exceeding the $17.4 billion in earnings that experts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had actually predicted. Though Facebook makes the majority of its cash from advertisements, the social media stated other earnings, such as virtual truth headsets, increased by 80% to $297 million compared to the very same duration in 2015.

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Facebook earned $1.71 per share, below estimates of $1.75 per share. The company’s stock was up more than 10% to $214.39 per share in after-hours trading.

Facebook said that ad revenue in the first three weeks of April has been relatively flat, a sign that some analysts say could result in a more challenging second quarter for social media companies.

“Some countries will be open for business sooner than others and ad spending will start to rise there, but other countries will remain largely on lockdown into May and possibly beyond,” said eMarketer principal analyst Debra Aho Williamson in a statement. “Even within countries, such as in the US, businesses will open up at varying rates, making it incredibly difficult for a company like Facebook to get its ad sales momentum back.”

A double-edged sword

To combat misinformation, Zuckerberg and wife Priscilla Chan have interviewed infectious disease experts and politicians via live video. The chats appear in Facebook ‘s coronavirus information center, an online hub the social network launched in March to direct people to more-trustworthy sources of information.

Still, misinformation remains a big problem for social networks. Conspiracy theories and hoaxes still thrive in Facebook groups, including false claims that the coronavirus is caused by 5G, according to an analysis by NBC. The New York Times also found that there were 487 Facebook communities pushing the 5G conspiracy theory, which government officials believe is linked to cell tower fires. 

Outside of new products, Facebook is also donating millions of dollars to small businesses and local news organizations. The company is offering businesses $100 million in cash grants and ad credit. It’s also been donating thousands of its Portal video chat devices to veterans in the US and people in hospitals and care homes in the UK. 

Facebook has been doubling down on video with the release of new features. Last week, the company released a tool called Messenger Rooms, which lets you video chat with up to 50 people, a move that could help Facebook compete with Zoom and HouseParty.

Zuckerberg said the company still plans to build new products and plans to hire 10,000 people in product and engineering roles this year. People will have new needs and the company has a responsibility to invest in the economic recovery, he said. In April, Facebook said it was investing $5.7 billion in India’s Jio Platforms, a large market for the social network and its messaging app WhatsApp.

“I’ve always believed that in times of economic downturn, the right thing to do is to keep investing and building the future,” Zuckerberg said.

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