Connect with us


Facebook Adds 100 Million More Users, Reports 11% Revenue Growth Amid COVID-19



Despite COVID-19, an advertiser boycott, and an appearance before US officials over possible antitrust violations. Even amid these varied distractions and impacts, Facebook has once again reported steady growth in its latest earnings report, with the platform now exceeding 3 billion users worldwide across its ‘family of apps’.

First off, on users – Facebook added another 100 million monthly active users in the Q2, taking it to 2.7b MAU. 

Facebook Q2 2020 User charts

Facebook’s MAU growth rate has accelerated in the last two quarters – which makes sense, given that more people are looking for distractions amid the COVID-19 lockdowns. But again, given the outside criticisms and concerns, which have also included broader debate around Facebook’s perceived lax efforts in removing hate speech, you might expect to see an impact on Facebook’s momentum.

Not so, according to these numbers. 

As you can see in the chart, Facebook continues to see the majority of its audience growth in the Asia-Pacific market, with India, in particular seeing significant take-up as the developing nation undergoes its own digital shift. Facebook recently made a significant step towards maximizing its opportunities in the region by purchasing a stake in Indian mobile provider Jio, through which it will look to build an eCommerce platform within the Indian market, which could, eventually, make Facebook the key platform for the nation’s billion-plus of citizens.

Worth noting, also, that Facebook, via Instagram, recently launched its TikTok-clone functionality ‘Reels’ in the Indian market, after the Indian Government banned TikTok due to conflicts with the Chinese regime. India was, up till then, TikTok’s second-biggest user market, with some 200 million active Indian users at the time of its removal. That will present another opportunity for Facebook to boost its regional growth.

In terms of daily actives, Facebook is now seeing 1.8b individual log-ins each day.

Facebook daily active users

As you can see from the lower listing, Facebook also continues to see high engagement, with 66% of its monthly active users logging on every day, which has been consistent for several quarters. 

The only nuance missing here is time spent – while many people do log onto Facebook regularly, what would be interesting to know is actual time spent, per user, on the platform. Facebook doesn’t release this info as a matter of course, but having that additional context would provide a more accurate view of Facebook usage. The view, among many tech analysts, is that while people do check-in to Facebook to see what family and friends have posted, they’re actually now spending more time in other apps instead. 

That additional detail could help to better align ad spend with actual usage – which, really, is probably why Facebook doesn’t release it.


In addition to this, Facebook has also notably crossed the 3b user threshold, at least in terms of usage across its entire ‘Family of Apps’ – i.e. combined, individual active users across Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger.

Facebook family of apps usage

It’s interesting to consider that, across the entire world, around 440 million users of Facebook’s other apps don’t access Facebook itself (2.7b MAU), and a lot of those, you would imagine, would be on WhatsApp, which is the dominant messaging platform in several major markets.

That means that Facebook still has significant opportunity to further monetize its other platforms, and reach unique users with more ad and business options. As yet, Facebook hasn’t been able to fully implement its monetization strategy for WhatsApp

In terms of revenue, Facebook saw an increase of 11%, bringing in $18b for the quarter.

Facebook Q2 2020 - revenue stats

Not bad, especially considering the slow down in ad spend due to COVID-19 and the current ads boycott, as noted. Of course, the impacts of that boycott won’t be evident till the next quarter, and Facebook has noted that it will see further impacts. It’ll be interesting to see exactly how significant those impacts end up being.

The company’s revenue growth, it’s worth noting, has slowed significantly, but overall, Facebook still beat analyst estimates. Shares in the company rose 8% on the release.

Looking ahead, Facebook says that it expects its third-quarter results to be largely in line with this report, though it does expect to see a slowdown in user growth. 

“More recently, we are seeing signs of normalization in user growth and engagement as shelter in-place measures have eased around the world, particularly in developed markets where Facebook’s penetration is higher. Looking forward, as shelter-in-place restrictions continue to ease, we expect the number of Facebook DAUs and MAUs to be flat or slightly down in most regions in the third quarter of 2020 compared to the second quarter of 2020.”

Facebook has seen ongoing user growth for some time, so it’ll be interesting to see the market response to a stalling in this respect, if indeed we do see such. 

Also interesting to note this chart:

Facebook Q2 2020 - revenue growth

Facebook’s ‘other’ revenue – i.e. revenue outside of advertising – continues to climb, which would largely be linked to the growth in sales of its Oculus VR devices and Portal smart speakers.

Back in April, Facebook reported that it was struggling to meet rising demand for Oculus headsets, while Portal sales have increased more than 10x during the global lockdowns. It’s still only a fraction of Facebook’s overall revenue pie, but both provide the company with not only one-off sales, but ongoing opportunities for connection, which could become more valuable over time.

The report reflects Facebook’s ongoing stability, which, despite the current protests, seems unlikely to be significantly impacted. While many big name Facebook advertisers have joined the current ad boycott, Facebook still has a large advertiser base – and while disrupting the company’s revenue flow may not have been the main aim of the protest action, it does underline Facebook’s sheer size and scope – which again, underlines the key emphasis of this week’s antitrust hearing.

An interesting point of note in this respect is that most of companies run by the tech CEOs who appeared before the House Judiciary Committee pushed back the release of their latest results till after the hearing. Facebook brought in $18b, while Amazon has taken in $88.9b for the most recent quarter, amid the pandemic, both beating analyst estimates. 

You can imagine that both results would not sit well amongst those considering their respective market dominance.

Either way you look at it, it’s an unfathomable amount of money flowing through each company, and definitely, there’s clear evidence that they use their size and scale to dominate their markets. Whether that will be reflected in the eventual findings of the House. we’ll have to wait and see.



Twitter Faces Advertiser Boycott Due to Failures to Police Child Abuse Material



Elon Musk Launches Hostile Takeover Bid for Twitter

Twitter’s no good, very bad year continues, with the company this week being forced to inform some advertisers that their ads had been displayed in the app alongside tweets soliciting child pornography and other abuse material.

As reported by Reuters:

Brands ranging from Walt Disney, NBCUniversal and Coca-Cola, to a children’s hospital, were among some 30 advertisers that have appeared on the profile pages of Twitter accounts that peddle links to the exploitative material.”

The discovery was made by cybersecurity group Ghost Data, which worked with Reuters to uncover the ad placement concerns, dealing another big blow to the app’s ongoing business prospects.

Already in a state of disarray amid the ongoing Elon Musk takeover saga, and following recent revelations from its former security chief that it’s lax on data security and other measures, Twitter’s now also facing an advertiser exodus, with big brands including Dyson, Mazda and Ecolab suspending their Twitter campaigns in response.

Which, really, is the least concerning element about the discovery, with the Ghost Data report also identifying more than 500 accounts that openly shared or requested child sexual abuse material over a 20-day period.

Ghost Data says that Twitter failed to remove more than 70% of the accounts during the time of the study.


The findings raise further questions about Twitter’s inability, or willingness, to address potentially harmful material, with The Verge reporting late last month that Twitter ‘cannot accurately detect child sexual exploitation and non-consensual nudity at scale’.

That finding stemmed from an investigation into Twitter’s proposed plan to give adult content creators the ability to begin selling OnlyFans-style paid subscriptions in the app.

Rather than working to address the abundance of pornographic material on the platform, Twitter instead considered leaning into it – which would undoubtedly raise the risk factor for advertisers who do not want their promotions to appear alongside potentially offensive tweets.

Which is likely happening, at an even greater scale than this new report suggests, because Twitter’s own internal investigation into its OnlyFans-esque proposal found that:

Twitter could not safely allow adult creators to sell subscriptions because the company was not – and still is not – effectively policing harmful sexual content on the platform.”

In other words, Twitter couldn’t risk facilitating the monetization of exploitative material in the app, and because it has no way of tackling such, it had to scrap the proposal before it really gained any traction.

With that in mind, these new findings are no surprise – but again, the advertiser backlash is likely to be significant, which could force Twitter to launch a new crackdown either way.

For its part, Twitter says that it is investing more resources dedicated to child safety, ‘including hiring for new positions to write policy and implement solutions’.


So, great, Twitter’s taking action now. But these reports, based on investigation into Twitter’s own examinations, show that Twitter has been aware of this potential issue for some time – not child exploitation specifically, but adult content concerns that it has no way of policing.

In fact, Twitter openly assists in the promotion of adult content, albeit inadvertently. For example, in the ‘For You’ section of my ‘Explore’ tab (i.e. the front page of Explore in the app), Twitter continuously recommends that I follow ‘Facebook’ as a topic, based on my tweets and the people I follow in the app.

Here are the tweets that it highlighted as some of the top topical tweets for ‘Facebook’ yesterday:

It’s not pornographic material as such, but I’m tipping that if I tap through on any of these profiles, I’ll find it pretty quick. And again, these tweets are highlighted based on Twitter’s own topical tweets algorithm, which is based on engagement with tweets that mention the topic term. These completely unrelated and off-topic tweets are then being pushed by Twitter itself, to users that haven’t expressed any interest in adult content.

It’s clear, based on all the available evidence, that Twitter does have a porn problem, and it’s doing little to address it.

Distributors of adult content view Twitter as the best social network for advertising, because it’s less restrictive than Facebook, and has much broader reach than niche adult sites, while Twitter gains the usage and engagement benefits of hosting material that other social platforms would simply not allow.

Which is likely why it’s been willing to turn a blind eye to such for so long, to the point that it’s now being highlighted as a much bigger problem.

Though it is important to note that adult content, in itself, is not inherently problematic, among consenting adult users at least. It’s Twitter’s approach to child abuse and exploitative content that’s the real issue at hand.


And Twitter’s systems are reportedly ‘woefully inadequate’ in this respect.

As reported by The Verge:

A 2021 report found that the processes Twitter uses to identify and remove child sexual exploitation material are woefully inadequate – largely manual at a time when larger companies have increasingly turned to automated systems that can catch material that isn’t flagged by PhotoDNA. Twitter’s primary enforcement software is “a legacy, unsupported tool” called RedPanda, according to the report. “RedPanda is by far one of the most fragile, inefficient, and under-supported tools we have on offer,” one engineer quoted in the report said.”

Indeed, additional analysis of Twitter’s CSE detection systems found that of the 1 million reports submitted each month, 84% contain newly-discovered material – ‘none of which would be flagged’, by Twitter’s systems.

So while it’s advertisers that are putting the pressure back on the company in this instance, it’s clear that Twitter’s issues stem far beyond ad placement concerns alone.

Hitting Twitter’s bottom line, however, may be the only way to force the platform to take action – though it’ll be interesting to see just how willing and able Twitter is to enact a broader plan to address such amidst of its ongoing ownership battle.

Within its takeover agreement with Elon Musk, there’s a provision which states that Twitter needs to:

“Use its commercially reasonable efforts to preserve substantially intact the material components of its current business organization.”


In other words, Twitter can’t make any significant changes to its operational structure while it’s in the transition phase, which is currently in debate as it headed for a courtroom battle with Musk.

Would initiating a significant update to its CSE detection models qualify as a substantial change – substantial enough to alter the operating structure of the company at the time of the initial agreement?

In essence, Twitter likely doesn’t want to make any major changes. But it might have to, especially if more advertisers join this new boycott, and push the company to take immediate action.

It’s likely to be a mess either way, but this is a huge concern for Twitter, which should be rightfully held to account for its systemic failures in this respect.

Source link

Continue Reading

Subscribe To our Newsletter
We promise not to spam you. Unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address