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Facebook Growth Persists Despite Ongoing Criticism

Facebook continues to face criticism and concern regarding its data privacy practices, its failure to prevent inappropriate content, and what some observers claim is its failure to prevent election meddling. 

Yet, despite facing a hard time in the public court of opinion, it is continuing to gain new users and grow its revenues and earnings.

Most recently, a new book entitled “Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe” provides a compilation of Facebook problems. It also includes an account of how the social media platform’s founder and CEO  Mark Zuckerberg has responded to (or failed to respond) appropriately to each problem, reports GeekWire.

The GeekWire review maintains that the book describes Zuckerberg’s and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg’s disregard for correcting problems.  The book delves into a laundry list of problems, including privacy issues and Facebook being used by Russia to influence the U.S. presidential election.

The book isn’t the only source of criticism. A recent survey by Nanos Research shows that many Canadians lack confidence in Facebook on a variety of fronts, reports The Globe and Mail.

In the study, more than seven out of 10 survey respondents said Facebook does a poor job of monitoring how the social media service is used to manipulate politics. Furthermore, eight out of 10 respondents said they believe Facebook is either untrustworthy or somewhat untrustworthy with how it handles people’s personal data. A majority of Canadians also said Facebook will have a negative impact on the next Federal election.

In the U.S., meanwhile, Facebook is being used to help gun purchasers exploit a loophole to avoid regulations, including training requirements, reports the Telegraph.

Facebook has generated $3.7 million in advertisements that promote the loophole, which is based on lax regulations in gun-friendly Virginia. In that state, individuals only have to complete a 10-question online test to get a concealed carry permit.

That’s considerably easier than in Texas, where individuals must complete four hours of classroom training and demonstrate gun proficiency on a firing range to obtain a concealed carry permit. Reciprocity agreements among many states, including Texas, mean that roughly 70% of Americans can apply for concealed carry permits under Virginia’s lax requirements.

Facebook is also being used in a somewhat deceptive manner to entice Mormons to leave their church, reports The Daily Beast.

Individuals who have left the church have paid for advertisements that lure readers into a discussion about the Mormon history of polygamy. The users targeted acquaintances who are members of the church with hopes of luring them away from the organization.

Zuckerberg, for his part, recently wrote an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal in which he said Facebook has been working for more than two years to weed out deliberately misleading information. In Europe, when the social media platform sought permission to use each individual’s web activity history for marketing, the vast majority of individuals said they want relevant, or targeted advertisements.

Despite the persistent concerns regarding issues with Facebook, the social media platform continues to grow and announced encouraging results for the fourth quarter of 2018, reports eMarketer.

Facebook has been reporting combined activity for its four offerings:  Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp. It says 2.7 billion people used at least one of the apps during the fourth quarter, which was a 100 million user increase from the third quarter. 

Since the numbers are for the four combined apps, however, it is hard to tell if the Facebook platform experienced a decline. In addition, most of the growth in users is occurring in Asia, although users in Europe also increased.

At the same time, Facebook has been increasing its revenues. For the fourth quarter, its average ad revenue per user climbed to $34.09, up 29.8% year over year. Worldwide, the metric reached $7.25, a 19.2% increase.

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