Facebook is so, so close to 2 billion users
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Facebook is so, so close to 2 billion users


Early on Wednesday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg penned a post on his decision to enlist 3,000 more people to monitor violent and other inappropriate videos on his social network. 

Later in the day, he announced the network now boasts 1.94 billion people (so close to the coveted 2 billion and still approaching the 3.6 billion who have access to the internet) who tap into the service every month. From January to March, Facebook pulled in $8 billion in revenue, a 49 percent increase from the year prior. 

So, it seems like the presence of inappropriate videos hasn’t really harmed its growth, in users or with money. Not too shabby, but, per usual, the statement in the earnings report was bland: “We had a good start to 2017,” Zuckerberg’s statement read. “We’re continuing to build tools to support a strong global community.”

That’s because Facebook crushing its earnings is old news. But, investors don’t let them get away with moving too slowly. 

Part of Zuckerberg’s quest to move quickly, or rather, “support a global community” is to attract users to his service every day. That’s especially important as consumer attention gets divided by apps like Snapchat. But it seems, per this report, that Facebook is not too worried about its numbers going south. 

Snap Inc. made headlines earlier in the day because of an App Annie report, released by Bloomberg, that showed Snapchat has a group of unique daily active users—unique in that they don’t use Facebook or Instagram every day. 

Just hours later, Facebook reported a statistic within its earnings report that shows that Facebook has nearly 2 billion users, and 66 percent of them are daily active users.  

When it comes to tools, one of the first updates that Zuckerberg addressed Wednesday was Facebook’s effort to curb fake news. Facebook wants to “reduce the financial motivation to spread hoaxes,” Zuckerberg said. That means education on fake news as well as promoting and showing articles that are fact-checked. 

He also pointed to their other community-focused efforts, such as Facebook’s Town Hall feature. With this update, users can easily identify and contact their local representatives. 

Facebook’s most glaring updates to its apps are all the Stories: Instagram Stories, Facebook Stories, WhatsApp Stories and Messenger Day (in case you forgot all of their names). 

It’s about “putting video front and center,” Zuckerberg said. 

Indeed, Facebook is on a quest to become a new form of television, just like Twitter and Snapchat and a little bit different from Hulu and Netflix. Facebook has long been going after advertising dollars that are devoted to television, not only the budgets that are dedicated to digital. 

“The question is not ‘Can you live without TV?’ but ‘Can you live without mobile?'” Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said. 

With these new videos, Facebook is hoping to attract more advertising dollars and user attention. Users are all into augmented reality these days, Zuckerberg said. That may be because Snapchat, the popular millennial app, brought it to the forefront of people’s attention.

Facebook’s AR experience will be much better than Snapchat’s because it will be an open ecosystem and one that has a lot more to offer than something built exclusively internally, like Snapchat, according to Zuckerberg. 

Facebook AR will be “different than any other app has done before … You’re now going to have thousands of options [for masks/filters] instead of 10 or 20 at a time,” Zuckerberg said. 

But if Facebook is going to be so great, so much greater than Snapchat at least, what about attracting talent? On the day prior to earnings, The Wall Street Journal published a story about a study conducted by a former Facebook engineer that found code submitted by women at the company was rejected more frequently than that of men. 

Facebook had conducted its own internal review that disputed the claims. Still, employees considered that the data might still highlight an issue with promotions at Facebook.

Again, Sandberg denied that but admitted more work to support engineers should be done. 

“We don’t have enough senior female engineers,” Sandberg said. “We take this very seriously.” 

Facebook has reached 18,800 employees in total, up 38 percent from the year prior, and added 1,700 new recruits over the last three months. 

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May 4, 2017
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