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Facebook to report bumper fourth-quarter earnings despite fake news issues


Facebook to report bumper fourth-quarter earnings despite fake news issues
Photo: Stephen Lam/Reuters

Facebook will release its earnings for the fourth quarter of 2017 today, continuing a busy week for Wall Street that will see tech giants Apple, Alphabet and Amazon also publish figures.

Facebook’s earnings are expected to be typically huge, with the social media titan estimated to have earned $12.5 billion in revenue in the three months to December—a 42% increase from the same period in 2016.

Despite the impressive figures, Facebook’s earnings may have been even higher if not for the continued prevalence of fake news on the platform, as well as its inadvertent role in alleged Russian meddling in the US election. In November, Facebook revealed the existence of some 60 million fake accounts—more than double the previous estimate. Fake accounts act as a form of modern propaganda—they’re used to shape public opinion by sharing links to articles with misleading information.

To remedy the problem, Facebook is expected to make changes to the News Feed that will discriminate against material from news sources and businesses in favour of content from friends and family. It is a smart move by the tech giant to avoid costly federal regulation of what’s advertised on the platform.

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