Facebook posts strong profits as users grow 9%

Electronic Frontier Foundation senior staff attorney Nate Cardozo speaks onstage during Tech Crunch Disrupt NY 2016 at Brooklyn Cruise Terminal

For example, someone can use Facebook Marketplace to list their stuff and then communicate any interested buyer directly over WhatsApp.

Facebook is reportedly working to combine Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram messaging into a single, unified platform, but don't expect that system to hit anytime soon: CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said that the project - "to whatever term we end up doing this" - would likely not show up until 2020 and beyond.

A report by eMarketer said Snapchat is drawing youths away from Facebook, predict a drop in the 18-24 age group for Facebook.

Other new experiences that Zuckerberg said would roll out this across Facebook's family of services this year are: payments on WhatsApp in some more countries; new shopping and commerce experiences on Instagram; and the launch of its Oculus Quest VR headset in spring.

Additionally, Zuckerberg said that Messenger along with the combined Instagram and WhatsApp integration could offer an iMessage-like layer for SMS with added features and security.

"These numbers are actually some of the most reassuring in its short history", said George Salmon, an analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

Facebook shares jumped 11.5 per cent to $167.67 in after-market trades that followed release of the earnings.

Net profit for Facebook, which makes most of its money from online advertising, was up a strong 61 per cent from the same period past year. They closed up 4.3 percent in regular trading.

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Facebook, the California social networking giant, turns 15 in February.

The company's shares have lost a third of their value since July, when it first warned about slowing growth in revenue and operating margin.

"This means we're finding ways for video to grow outside of News Feed so it doesn't displace the social interactions that people primarily come to our services for".

Since the plan leaked however there has already been significant pushback, including European Union data controllers questioning Facebook's right to combine data from WhatsApp and Facebook without explicit permission from users.

The company set aside $1 billion for taxes in the fourth quarter, giving it an effective tax rate of 14 percent.

Speaking on Facebook's fourth quarter and full year 2018 results call, Zuckerberg said that 400 million people use Watch every month and that people spend on average more than 20 minutes on Watch daily.

"In Facebook, the way people experience groups and communities will continue to deepen", he predicted.

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