Facebook shares swing as changes trim time spent by users

Mark Zuckerberg said, "Helping people connect is more important than maximizing the time they spend on Facebook."

  • Published: February 1, 2018 3:25 PM IST

Facebook has reported earnings that beat expectations, but shares swung as it stressed the goal of prioritizing personal interactions among users over the time they spend on the world’s biggest social network.

“Helping people connect is more important than maximizing the time they spend on Facebook,” co-founder and chief Mark Zuckerberg said during an earnings call.

“We can make sure the service is good for people’s well- being and for society overall.”

He said that in the last couple of years, content from viral videos or posts by businesses have grown to a point where it is “crowding out the connections people value most.” Facebook is giving posts from friends and family priority over content that is not as likely to engender genuine personal interactions, according to Zuckerberg.

“We made changes to show fewer viral videos to make sure people’s time is well spent,” Zuckerberg said.

“In total, we made changes that reduced time spent on Facebook by roughly 50 million hours every day.” Chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg contended that getting people to engage with more posts by friends actually ramped up opportunities for the social network to make money.

Facebook shares dove more than four percent after the figures were released, but regained the lost ground and even rose a bit to $188.90 in after-market trades that followed an earnings call with executives.

Facebook said that profit in the final three months of last year climbed 20 percent to $4.26 billion as ad revenue and ranks of members grew.

Revenue in the quarter leapt 47 percent to nearly $13 billion, but expenses also rose as its ranks of employees grew to finish the year at 25,105 workers.

Facebook said the number of monthly active users hit 2.13 billion in the past quarter, up 14 percent from a year ago.

Facebook said it set aside an additional $2.27 billion for taxes on profits to be repatriated from overseas, taking advantage of a lower rate in a recently approved US fiscal overhaul.

A freshly-introduced update highlights what friends and family share on the network over advertisements, celebrity and media posts.

The company cast the changes as part of a refocus on “community” — prioritizing social interactions and relationships.

Analysts have been cautious about Facebook as it revamps its News Feed as part of an effort to curb misinformation and focus on updates from friends and family.

“2017 was a strong year for Facebook, but it was also a hard one,” Zuckerberg said.

“In 2018, we’re focused on making sure Facebook isn’t just fun to use, but also good for people’s well-being and for society.”(AFP)

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.

  • Published Date: February 1, 2018 3:25 PM IST