Facebook reported solid third-quarter results on Wednesday showing steady growth in its user base even as it faces broad regulatory threats and criticism over its power and negative effects on society.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg lauded the company’s financial performance before launching into an impassioned monologue about principles and free speech during a conference call with analysts. The call began less than an hour after Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced that his company is banning all political ads from its platform, a challenge to Facebook, which has so far stood by its much-criticised decision not to fact check such ads.
“Today is certainly a historical moment of social tension, and I view an important role of our company as defending free expression,” Zuckerberg said. Right now, he added, the debate is about political ads, saying that while he has considered whether to ban such ads from Facebook, “on balance so far I’ve thought we should continue.”
Though grappling with big societal issues and regulators breathing down its neck, Facebook continued to grow profit and sales in the double digits during the quarter. Facebook said that it earned $US6.09 billion ($8.8 billion), or $US2.12 per share, in the July-September period, up 19 per cent from $US5.14 billion, or $US1.76 per share, in the same period a year earlier.