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

  • Massive stingrays may live in Mekong’s deep pools

    US scientists have suggested that unexplored deep pools in the Mekong River in an area of Stung Treng could potentially be home to significant populations of giant freshwater stingrays, one of the world’s largest freshwater fish species. This comes as a fisherman hooked a 180

  • PM takes time to meet, greet Cambodians living in the US

    After landing in the US ahead of the ASEAN-US Special Summit, Prime Minister Hun Sen was received by over 1,000 Cambodian-Americans including political analysts who welcomed him with greetings, fist bumps and selfies. Hun Sen also met with analyst Mak Hoeun, who had allegedly spoken ill

  • PM reflects on shoe throwing: Free speech or act of violence?

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on May 17 questioned whether a man who threw a shoe at him while he was in the US was exercising freedom of expression or if it was an act of hostility. Hun Sen was referring to an incident last week when

  • Chinese tourists 2.0 – Coming anytime soon?

    Regional tourism is grappling with the absence of the prolific travellers and big spenders – the Chinese tourists. Cambodia, which has welcomed over two million Chinese tourists before Covid-19, is reeling from the economic loss despite being the first to fully open last November ‘To put

  • Prime Minister Hun Sen warmly welcomed by president Biden

    Prime Minister Hun Sen, as ASEAN chair, and other ASEAN leaders were warmly welcomed by US president Joe Biden as the ASEAN-US summit May 12-13 kicked off today in Washington. “This evening, I welcomed ASEAN leaders to the White House for the first time in

  • Third Makro outlet planned for capital’s Chroy Changvar

    Makro (Cambodia) Co Ltd is set to invest $12.7 million in its third Cambodian outlet, this time in northeast Phnom Penh’s Chroy Changvar district, an area dotted with high-end residential developments, as shopping behaviours continue to evolve in tandem with economic growth. The Cambodian Investment