For Facebook, the revelation was all the more embarrassing because it had previously estimated that only around 10 million U.S. users had been exposed to Russian disinformation. The latest user numbers: Facebook daily active users were up 16% to 1.37bn, while monthly active users were up 16% to 2.07bn.
The company posted FX-neutral advertising revenue growth of 47 percent year over year thanks to ad pricing ramp, a "rare and impressive" feat according to Anmuth.
Investors, however, it seems did not like the profitability outlook as the stock was down in after-hours trading despite the fantastic earnings report.
But CEO Mark Zuckerberg sounded a warning note, after a hard few weeks of debate around the role of rogue Russian actors trying to influence the last USA presidential election through Facebook ads and posts. "Importantly, Facebook will increase the number of people working on safety & security (both FTEs & contractors) from ~10k now to 20k over the next year".
"Our business is doing well", company CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement. "And I wanted our investors to hear that directly from me".
Protecting the Facebook community is more important than "maximizing our profits", Zuckerberg said on the call.
Facing intense pressure to curb trolls, spreaders of fake news and other bad actors, Facebook is vowing to sacrifice future profits for a better-policed platform. The social media giant, along with Google and Twitter all sent general counsel this week to three scheduled meetings before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election. In a worst-case scenario, Congress could end up passing legislation that impacts digital platforms on how online advertising is handled, something that could affect Facebook's bottom line if it were to come to pass.
Security is clearly a major and costly issue for Facebook. This is another reason for the focus on building a healthy ecosystem that users trust, because if Facebook is successful with its security measures, it can conceivably start charging more for ads. During the earnings call, Zuckerberg noted that they are making large-scale efforts in video content, artificial intelligence and virtual reality, among other areas.