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Finance: The ‘Facebook is bad for society’ narrative isn’t flying with advertisers, Barclays says (FB)
PublishedBy: in Business Insider/FinanceApril 12, 2018


The "Delete Facebook" movement isn't scaring away advertisers.

  • Facebook advertisers aren't going anywhere, according to Barclays analyst Ross Sandler.
  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress Tuesday and Wednesday over user data privacy.
  • Revenue remains on track, as ad prices are increasing.
  • The real risk is that Facebook is spending on new hires to implement privacy mechanisms, potentially putting pressure on margins.
  • Watch Facebook stock in real time here.

Advertisers aren't worried about users fleeing Facebook in light of privacy issues, according Barclays analyst Ross Sandler.

The social media giant has faced some public relations troubles surrounding fake news and the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, with several celebrities speaking out against the platform.

In February, the actor Jim Carrey sold his Facebook shares due to the company profiting from Russian interference in the US election.

"I'm dumping my @facebook stock and deleting my page because @facebook profited from Russian interference in our elections and they're still not doing enough to stop it," Carrey tweeted on February 6. "I encourage all other investors who care about our future to do the same. #unfriendfacebook."

And Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak recently told USA Today he was quitting Facebook because "users provide every detail of their life to Facebook and … Facebook makes a lot of advertising money off this."

But Sandler says advertisers aren't freaking out over the recent developments.

"Despite the growing privacy concerns and 'Facebook is bad for society' narrative, most direct response advertisers are making decisions based on ROI and not headlines and continue to spend at a very healthy clip," Sandler said in a note sent out to clients on Thursday.

He added, "Checks point to a solid 1Q ad revenue growth, likely slightly above our 40% ex-fx estimate" and that "we have yet to see and don't expect a material impact to revenue."

While Sandler says things are still looking good, he pinpointed one area of risk for the company, but it has nothing to do with user deletions. Facebook is beefing up its staff to help implement new privacy mechanisms.

"In addition to adding 10k incremental safety/security heads, Facebook is likely ramping up technical staff to help put out the new fires around privacy and lack of controls/oversight in their automated systems," he said, which likely means "lower operating margins going forward for the company."

Still, Barclays has a price target of $225 a share for Facebook, above thw Wall Street consensus of $217.

Facebook is down 9.59% this year.

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