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Beyond the headlines: Facebook claims privacy coverage has had no ‘meaningful impact’ on revenue

by on 6th April 2018

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, has stated during a conference call with reporters that coverage surrounding Facebook’s challenges with data privacy has had no “meaningful impact” on its ability to retain advertisers or users.

During the call, Zuckerberg also used the words “chose to share” four times in reference to the exchange of data between users, the platform and app developers.

Facebook’s share price increased 4 percent following the conference call, despite events of the last few weeks wiping as much as $80 billion from its market value.

Facebook has been on the receiving end of a viral #deletefacebook campaign following revelations about how its data was allegedly, as Facebook puts it, “improperly shared” with UK-based analytics firm Cambridge Analytica.

It revealed yesterday that as many as 87 million users, 70 million of them in the US, may have been affected by the exchange of data.

Despite this, a survey conducted by Deutsche Bank Markets Research two days ago appears to confirm Zuckerberg’s suggestion that the platform remains largely unaffected by the press coverage around the issue.

The survey found, from a sample of 500 users, that only 1 percent of users had deleted their Facebook profile in the previous week. According to a report published by eMarketer three weeks ago, Facebook’s revenue is projected to increase 16.9 percent year-on-year.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer, states a “few” advertisers had paused spending.

Facebook currently has 2.1 billion users, and the vast majority of these users are between 18 and 34 years old, according to a report from WeAreSocial and Hootsuite. It also posted profits of $4.26 billion for Q4 of 2017.

During the conference call, and despite mentioning “AI,” Zuckerberg also announced plans to increase the number of people working on “security and content review” from 15,000 to 20,000 by the end of the year.

He also spoke about trade-offs between corporate profits and user wellbeing. In response to a question about why an audit of Facebook’s API wasn’t conducted earlier, he stated “I think our view in a number of aspects of our relationship with people is that our job is to give them tools, and that it was largely people’s responsibility how they chose to use them”.

He also went on to say it was “wrong in retrospect to have that limited a view”.

On GDPR, Zuckerberg clarified that “we’ve had almost all of what’s in there implemented for years, around the world, not just in Europe” and “[Facebook will] make all the same controls and settings available everywhere, not just in Europe”.

Perhaps the most interesting exchange in the call came when Mark Zuckerberg was asked whether Facebook’s board has discussed whether he should step down as chairman, to which Zuckerberg gave the most concise answer of any given previously: “not that I’m aware of”.

On whether anyone has been fired in relation to the Cambridge Analytica issue or any other data privacy issue, Zuckerberg responded “I’m not looking to throw anyone else under the bus for mistakes that we’ve made here”.

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