Record low user growth at Facebook


The company will also be tested next week when Americans vote in the November 6 midterm elections.

Facebook announced the results as it strives to fend off concerns about how well it protects the data of users and defends against use of the site to spread misinformation aimed at swaying elections.

Still, some analysts think Facebook's business can continue to thrive.

Facebook, Amazon and Google parent Alphabet had suffered a battering over the last month on Wall Street after leading a years-long rally.

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On Tuesday, Facebook posted third-quarter earnings per share of $1.76 on revenue of $13.73 billion, versus consensus estimates for EPS of $1.46 on revenue of $13.765 billion, according to FactSet. Facebook saw 1.49 billion daily active users in the quarter, which was below analyst expectations of 1.51 billion users. Facebook's spending has ballooned as it tries to fortify itself against fraudsters and hackers, and as it invests in more engaging content such as video. Facebook has also nearly fully saturated some of its most important markets, including the United States and Europe.

Then there's hate speech, hacks and a massive privacy scandal in which Facebook exposed the data of up to 87 million users to a data mining firm, along with resulting moves toward government regulation of social media. "Stories monetizing at an estimated approximate 30 percent lower rate than News Feed, messaging/video monetization still de minimis and Instagram Explore still without any ads", wrote Morgan Stanley. "With a community of more than 2 billion people, we will see all the good and bad that humanity can do". "Public sharing will always be very important but people want to share privately too", said the CEO. Emerging businesses Instagram and WhatsApp are seen as hopes for picking up the slack from flattening usage of the main Facebook app.

Adding to the challenge is that the bulk of new users are from countries including India, Indonesia and Philippines where advertisers focus more on TV, print and outdoor advertising, Facebook executives said. That is partly because tools to make ads for "Stories" are not fully developed yet, and it is easy for users to ignore ads on the service or skip the service altogether, analysts said. While revenue growth at 33% over the year ago period came in below targets, Zuckerberg reported on Facebook's earnings call that messaging services WhatsApp and Messenger, along with its Facebook Stories platform, have the potential for further monetization. It is also building a stable of original programming on Facebook Watch, its video service, to engage users, as well as working on efforts like an e-commerce marketplace, a jobs service and a dating service, he said.