Facebook shrugged off its feud with Apple to double its profits in the three months ending in June, smashing past Wall Street’s expectations.
The social media titan increased its profits from $5.2bn (£3.7bn) in the same period in 2020 to $10.4bn this year, while its revenue rose 53pc from $18.7bn to $28.6bn, the biggest year on year rise since at least 2017.
However, the company warned that its growth would slow down "significantly" over the next six months, even when accounting for the softening of lockdowns and the end of the screen time boom.
It cited hostility from regulators and the worsening impact of Apple’s privacy crackdown, which has made it harder for Facebook’s customers to track users between different iPhone apps and measure the success of their campaigns.
Shares fell by as much as 4.6pc in after-hours trading as investors absorbed the negative guidance.
Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said he was excited about Facebook’s plans to build a "metaverse", meaning a unified, immersive virtual world incorporating different kinds of online service. The company is betting heavily on virtual reality (VR) and online shopping to compensate for slowing user growth and Apple’s new rules.
Facebook’s monthly users grew 1.8pc from 2.85bn in the first three months of this year to the current 2.9bn, marking the slowest rate in years. The number of people using at least one of its apps, including WhatsApp and Instagram, still swelled to a staggering 3.5bn, nearing half of the world’s population.
It comes amid a PR battle over vaccine misinformation with President Joe Biden, who accused the company of "killing people" with its algorithms after missing his own targets for immunising the US.
On Wednesday morning the Real Facebook Oversight Board, a protest group, laid out bright blue body bags in front of the company’s Washington, DC headquarters.
Facebook described this a "cheap stunt" and claimed that it had done a better job than Mr Biden at persuading Americans to get the jab. An independent study found that people who got their coronavirus news from Facebook were more likely to be anti-vaccine than with almost any other media source.