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Photo Illustration by Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Facebook's stock showed volatility in after-hours trading Wednesday, despite adding users and beating on top and bottom lines.

Why it matters: Investors seem spooked by proposed changes to user data collection by Apple that would impact Facebook's ad business, in addition to perennial threats of new federal privacy regulations.

Details: In a statement, Facebook addressed the Apple changes and said ad targeting headwinds in 2021 include "the impact of platform changes, notably iOS 14, as well as the evolving regulatory landscape."

  • The company says it expects to see an impact from the changes "beginning late in the first quarter."
  • While Facebook beat Wall Street estimates on overall user growth, it reported for the second straight quarter daily active user declines in North America, its most lucrative ad market. But the company lost 1 million daily active users in the U.S. and Canada last quarter, it gained 3 million monthly active users in that same period.

By the numbers, per CNBC:

  • Earnings: $3.88 per share vs $3.22 per share forecast by Refinitiv
  • Revenue: $28.07 billion vs $26.44 billion forecast by Refinitiv
  • Daily active users (DAUs): 1.84 billion vs 1.83 billion forecast by FactSet
  • Monthly active users (MAUs): 2.8 billion vs 2.76 billion forecast by FactSet

The big picture: Facebook's business was resilient in the fourth quarter despite pandemic-related headwinds to the advertising sector broadly.

  • In a statement, the company attributed its growth to two broad economic trends playing out during the pandemic: the ongoing shift toward online commerce and the shift in consumer demand to products and away from services.

What's next: Facebook forecasts that in the first quarter of 2021, it will be "lapping a period of growth that was negatively impacted by reduced advertising demand during the early stages of the pandemic."

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Jan 29, 2021 - Technology

Facebook seeks a new head of U.S. public policy

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Facebook is looking externally for a new U.S. policy chief as it moves Kevin Martin, a Republican who now holds the job, to a different position, per a memo seen by Axios.

Between the lines: Facebook is moving on from the Trump era in which Republicans held most of the power in Washington and Facebook was particularly eager among tech companies to forge warm relations with GOP policymakers.

Jan 29, 2021 - Technology

Facebook developing a tool to help advertisers avoid bad news

Photo Illustration: Avishek Das/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Facebook on Friday said it's testing new advertiser "topic exclusion controls" to help address concerns marketers may have that their ads are appearing next to topics in Facebook's News Feed that they consider bad for their brand.  

Why it matters: As Axios has previously noted, the chaotic nature of the modern news cycle and digital advertising landscape has made it nearly impossible for brands to run ads against quality content in an automated fashion without encountering bad content.

Jan 29, 2021 - Technology

Big Tech is outsourcing its hardest content moderation decisions

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Faced with the increasingly daunting task of consistent content moderation at scale, Big Tech companies are tossing their hardest decisions to outsiders, hoping to deflect some of the pressure they face for how they govern their platforms.

Why it matters: Every policy change, enforcement action or lack thereof prompts accusations that platforms like Facebook and Twitter are making politically motivated decisions to either be too lax or too harsh. Ceding responsibility to others outside the company may be the future of content moderation if it works.