Zuckerberg: Users spending 50 million fewer hours a day on Facebook

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Revenue in the quarter leapt 47 per cent to almost US$13 billion, but expenses also rose as its ranks of employees growing by the same percentage to finish the year at 25,105 workers.

Mr Zuckerberg said: "Last quarter, we made changes to show fewer viral videos to make sure people's time is well spent".

Facebook reported slightly slower-than-expected growth in daily active users in the latest quarter and said changes made to the News Feed reduced the time spent by users by about 50 million hours every day.

The move hasn't hurt Facebook's full-year numbers though, in 2017 the company's revenue and profit jumped from US$40.6 billion and US$15.9 billion, from US$27.6 billion and US$10.2 billion in 2016, respectively. Usage also rose about 14 percent from a year ago on both a daily and monthly basis.

His announcement came after increased criticism over how Facebook and other social media platforms exploit human psychology to get people to spend as much time as possible on their apps. That change added $2.27 billion to Facebook's quarterly tax bill.

"Daniel Ives, an analyst at GBH Insights, said the firm's financial results were "robust" and described Facebook's strategy as 'the right medicine at the right time". This is an attempt to make the information on the News Feeds more relevant to the users as well as to help spread "news that is trustworthy, informative, and local".

To help assuage these fears of censorship, Philips says Facebook "needs to be a little more clear about what they classify as fake news".

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Some small publishers may have been left out of today's update, Facebook said, but it plans to refine its algorithms over time to include as many local sources as possible. This is Facebook we're talking about.

Shares of the company were down 4.1 percent at $179.25 after the bell.

Facebook this week announced it will deliver more local news to United States users, in its latest effort to manage the flow of information on the enormously-influential social network.

Facebook sent a tremor through USA politics previous year when it said that Russian agents used Facebook to try to sway American voters from 2015 to 2017, an allegation that Moscow denies.

Facebook attributed the decline to product changes, but executives noted they don't think that trend will continue. On average, analysts anticipated Facebook would report $12.55 billion in sales and $1.95 a share in earnings.

Excluding a tax provision, the company earned $2.21 per share, topping analysts' estimates of $1.95, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Zuckerberg has vowed to fix the issues at the social network, amid concerns it was used as a platform for Russian meddling in the U.S. elections.

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