Facebook beefs up user numbers again, especially in Asia

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Appearing in front of a Senate judiciary subcommittee, Facebook confirmed reports that ads bought in Russian Federation were delivered to an estimated 126m people during last year's election campaign. Mobile advertising generated 88 percent of ad revenue, and is up 84 percent year over year.

"Because the interference on our platform went beyond ads, we're also increasing transparency around organic content from pages", said COO Sheryl Sandberg.

Facebook has said that content from a Russian troll farm, the Internet Research Agency, potentially reached as many as 126 million users. Monthly Active Users were 2.07 billion for September 30, 2017, an increase of 16%.

The company confirmed it would double the number of workers dedicated to keeping fake news and hate speech off its sites by the end of next year - in all close to 20,000 staff.

Protecting the Facebook community is more important than "maximizing our profits," Zuckerberg said on the call.

"I am dead serious about this, and the reason I'm talking about this on our earnings calls is that I've directed our teams to invest so much in security on top of our other investments we're making that it will significantly impact our profitability going forward, and I wanted our investors to hear that directly from me".

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Zuckerberg said Facebook's recently launched Watch tab is an example of how it is capitalizing on this opportunity.

In November 2016, Facebook's 33-year-old CEO was famously dismissive of the idea that fake news on Facebook could have influenced the election, calling it "a pretty insane idea".

Another key metric is daily active users (DAU), which was up 17% year-on-year in the second quarter and up 3% quarter-on-quarter to a staggering 1.33bn users.

Facebook's revenue has surged to USD$10.3bn (£7.8bn), on the back of 47% growth year-on-year.

Lawmakers were quick to say it appeared Facebook's first priority was its business as opposed to national security.

The corollary of this is that while the ability to identify real or fake users can be used to combat fraud, electioneering or tampering by bad actors, it can also identify real people to boost the effectiveness of advertisers' campaigns.