Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Facebook profits top $9B amid whistleblower uproar

Facebook profits top $9B amid whistleblower uproar

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Fresh leaks attack Facebook, with new report blaming CEO Mark Zuckerberg for his platform bending to state censors in Vietnam. AFP

Facebook profits top $9B amid whistleblower uproar

Facebook announced over $9 billion in quarterly profits on October 25, hours after a US news collective published a deluge of withering reports arguing the company prioritises its growth over people’s safety.

The social media giant has been battling a fresh crisis since former employee Frances Haugen leaked reams of internal studies showing that executives knew of their sites’ potential for harm, prompting a renewed US push for regulation.

Facebook released results showing its profit in the recently-ended quarter grew to $9.2 billion – a 17 per cent increase – and its ranks of users increased to 2.91 billion.

Facebook executives said on an earnings call that the tech titan would have brought in even more money if not for Apple updating its iPhone operating system to thwart advertisers tracking app users for ad targeting without permission.

“Overall, if it wasn’t for Apple’s iOS 14 changes, we would have seen positive quarter over quarter revenue growth,” Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said of the iPhone software tweak made in the name of protecting privacy.

Hours earlier, new reports blamed CEO Mark Zuckerberg for his platform bending to state censors in Vietnam, noted Facebook allowed hate speech to flourish internationally due to linguistic shortcomings and said it knew its algorithm fuelled toxic polarisation online.

“These damning documents underscore that Facebook leadership chronically ignored serious internal alarms, choosing to put profits over people,” US Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Big Tech critic, said in a statement.

News organisations like the New York Times, the Washington Post and Wired were among those that have now received access to the set of internal Facebook documents that Haugen originally leaked to US authorities and which were the basis of a damning Wall Street Journal series.

Facebook has assailed the reporting as an effort to cast the social network used by billions of people in an inaccurate light.

“Good faith criticism helps us get better, but my view is that what we are seeing is a coordinated effort to selectively use leaked documents to paint a false picture of our company,” Zuckerberg said in an earnings call.

Haugen, who testified on social media before British lawmakers on October 25, has repeatedly said the company puts its continuous growth, and thus profits, before the well-being and safety of users.

“Facebook has been unwilling to accept even little slivers of profit being sacrificed for safety, and that’s not acceptable,” she told the lawmakers, adding that angry or hate-fuelled content “is the easiest way to grow” the social media platform.

Facebook has been hit by major crises previously, but the current view behind the curtain of the insular company has fuelled a frenzy of scathing reports and a renewed push from US lawmakers to crack down on social media.

The Washington Post story out on October 25 said Zuckerberg had personally signed off on a push from Vietnam’s authoritarian government to limit the spread of so-called “anti-state” posts.

A report from Politico called the documents a “treasure trove for Washington’s anti-trust fight” against the platform, revealing internal employee chats about Facebook global dominance.

One of October 25’s reports, from website The Verge, plunged into the company’s own worries for its future.

“Teenage users of the Facebook app in the US had declined by 13 per cent since 2019 and were projected to drop 45 per cent over the next two years, driving an overall decline in daily users in the company’s most lucrative ad market,” the story said, citing internal company research.

MOST VIEWED

  • Research key to Kanitha’s rep for expertise

    Sok Kanitha is used to weighing in on controversial issues using a confident approach that signals expertise and authority, and a recent video she made was no exception. Her “Episode 342: The History of NATO” video went live on January 16, 2023 and immediately shot to 30,000 likes and 3,500

  • Cambodia maintains 'Kun Khmer' stance despite Thailand’s boycott threat

    Cambodia has taken the position that it will use the term "Kun Khmer" to refer to the sport of kickboxing at the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, and has removed the term Muay from all references to the sport. Despite strong reactions from the Thai

  • Knockout! Kun Khmer replaces ‘Muay’ for Phnom Penh Games

    Cambodia has decided to officially remove the word Muay from the programme of the 32nd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games 2023 in May. “Kun Khmer” will instead be used to represent the Southeast Asian sport of kickboxing, in accordance with the wishes of the Cambodian people. Vath

  • Artificial insemination takes herd from 7 to 700

    Some farms breed local cows or even import bulls from a broad for the purpose of breeding heavier livestock for meat production. One Tbong Khnum farmer has found a more efficient way. Hout Leang employs artificial insemination to fertilise local cows. Thanks to imported “straws”

  • New int’l airport nearly half complete as travel industry returns to life

    Construction of a new airport that is slated to serve the capital has passed the 43 per cent completion mark, raising prospects for a proper recovery in the civil aviation and tourism sectors as international travellers return to the Kingdom in increasingly large numbers. The figure

  • Chinese group tours return to Cambodia starting Feb 6

    Cambodia is among 20 countries selected by Beijing for a pilot programme allowing travel agencies to provide international group tours as well as flight and hotel packages to Chinese citizens, following a three-year ban. As the days tick down until the programme kicks off on February 6,