Despite #deletefacebook, Facebook’s user count (and revenue) keeps growing

For Facebook, 2018 started with the goal of making time on the platform time well spent, but its focus spiraled into a series of changes designed to better safeguard user privacy and prevent abuse on the platform. While some of that abuse has created a cry for users to #deletefacebook, the company’s user counts and revenue both increased during the first three months of the year, Facebook shared on Wednesday April 25 during the first quarter earnings report.

Both monthly and daily active users for Facebook increased 13 percent compared to where those same numbers were a year ago. Facebook now claims 1.45 billion daily active users and 2.20 billion monthly active users, up from December’s count of 1.40 billion daily active users and 2.13 billion monthly active users.

Facebook’s Chief Financial Officer David Wehner says a majority of the growth was from users in India, Indonesia, and Vietnam. The Cambridge Analytica scandal broke about two weeks before Facebook finalized those numbers on March 31, so some of the effects of that breach of trust could impact the second quarter report.

While a number of influencers, including tech giants, have joined the #deletefacebook movement, Facebook’s latest numbers reflect what CEO Mark Zuckerberg told the U.S. Senate during testimony earlier this month — that data concerns hadn’t created a significant loss in user numbers.

Total revenue for the first part of the year was up 49 percent for the company, with a majority of the company’s revenue coming from mobile ads. At the same time, Facebook’s expenses also saw a significant (though lower) jump with a 39-percent increase in total costs compared to 2017. That increase includes the company’s largest hiring spree in Facebook’s history as the platform works to have 20,000 human reviewers before the end of the year.

During the earnings call, Zuckerberg echoed earlier statements and reiterated the company’s efforts to increase review staff, build new A.I. review tools, create more ad transparency and limit third-party app access.

Facebook is also focusing on Stories. Zuckerberg calls Stories the future of video sharing, and while Instagram grew the fastest and the WhatsApp version is the largest, Facebook is now catchingsome of this growth, too, he said. That focus is bringing more ad types to Stories, as the company first experimented with in Instagram, and most recently, with carousel ads using multiple images.

Zuckerberg also says that advancing Groups, messaging, and business ecosystems like the new WhatsApp Business are among the company’s goals over the next five years. The Facebook founder also shared that the company’s internet.org initiative now helps nearly 100 million people access the internet.

“Overall, 2018 is a year of important investments — to keep people safe, and also to keep building the experiences people expect from us,” he said. “We are taking a broader view of our responsibility and investing to make sure our tools are used for good. But we also need to keep moving forward — building new tools to help people connect, build community, and bring the world closer together.”