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Facebook's Q1 profits soar 63%, no impact from privacy scandal

San Francisco

FACEBOOK on Wednesday reported a sharp jump in profits in the past quarter, with gains in its user base and strong ad growth as the social network appeared to see no impact from a controversy on privacy.

Profit in the first quarter of 2018 jumped 63 per cent from a year ago to US$5 billion, and total revenues increased 49 per cent to US$11.97 billion, Facebook said in an earnings update which topped most analyst forecasts.

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, who has spent most of the past month on the fallout from the revelations on the hijacking of personal data by a political firm, sought to reassure investors about the company's future despite the privacy row which has sparked investigations on both sides of the Atlantic.

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"Despite facing important challenges, our community and business are off to a strong start in 2018," Mr Zuckerberg said.

"We are taking a broader view of our responsibility and investing to make sure our services are used for good. But we also need to keep building new tools to help people connect, strengthen our communities, and bring the world closer together."

Facebook shares climbed more than 5.5 per cent to US$168.50 in after-hours trades that followed release of the earnings figures.

The report showed the number of people using Facebook monthly climbed 13 per cent from last year to 2.2 billion as of the end of March, despite concerns that users would abandon the network following the misuse of data by Cambridge Analytica.

Facebook said another measure, daily active users, was up in all regions including the US and Europe.

"At first look, we would characterise (these) results as a relief and is a sign that so far the damage from Cambridge appears contained although this will be a long three to six months ahead to steer through this storm," GHB Insights analyst Daniel Ives said in a research note.

Baird senior research analyst Colin Sebastian said in a note to investors that "at first glance, impact from data/privacy issues appears minimal." AFP