Facebook has warned that its growth will slow down dramatically in the coming months amid iPhone privacy changes, a further blow to the embattled social network as it wrestles with a whistleblower scandal.
The social media giant said revenues had grown by 35pc in the third quarter of the year to $29bn (£21bn), a marked slowdown on the 56pc growth in the previous three months.
It also warned that sales in the final three months of the year could be as low as $31.5bn, which would represent growth of just 12pc, as a result of changes Apple has made this year to how apps can track users. It added that annual profits would take a $10bn hit this year from its huge investments in new technologies such as virtual reality.
Facebook, which owns Instagram and WhatsApp, is betting on new areas of growth beyond its social network as it seeks to move on from a string of political scandals.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook would focus more on attracting young adults amid fierce competition from the likes of TikTok. "We are retooling our teams to make serving young adults, their north stars, rather than optimising for larger numbers."
It comes following claims that younger users are leaving Facebook in droves for rival apps.
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Shares rose slightly in after-hours trading, with the company cushioning the blow by authorising a $50bn share buyback.
The online advertising industry has been rocked by Apple’s recent privacy changes, which require apps to ask permission to track iPhone owners across different apps.
The changes are believed to have hit Facebook particularly hard since they make it harder to tell when an advert encouraging people to install an app has been successful.
The social network sells billions of dollars in advertising space to app developers such as games companies.
Snapchat said last week it had lost millions in advertising revenue due to the changes.
Facebook has faced weeks of damaging revelations about its internal research amid accusations the company prioritises profit above safety and is unconcerned about its impact on users’ mental health.
Facebook has rejected the claims, saying it has invested billions in keeping its users safe.
The company said its user growth continued, with 3.58bn people using one of its apps every month, up 12pc. Profits rose 17pc to $9.2bn.