Over $109bn wiped off Facebook's market cap after growth shock

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It was filed just hours before a brutal Facebook second-quarter earnings update on Wednesday, which sent the firm's share price tumbling almost 24 per cent, wiping as much as $148 billion off its value.

The complaint filed by shareholder James Kacouris in Manhattan federal court accused Facebook, Zuckerberg and Chief Financial Officer David Wehner of making misleading statements about or failing to disclose slowing revenue growth, falling operating margins, and declines in active users.

For a while, Facebook had avoided a stock market plummet despite the wealth of bad news surrounding the company in recent months, according to Wired. But the revenue of $13.2 billion missed Wall Street estimates of $13.4 billion.

Facebook's margin fell to 44 percent in the second quarter from 47 percent a year ago as it spent heavily on security and initiatives to convince users the company was protecting their privacy. Overall, average daily users increased 11% from the period a year earlier.

Facebook also had 185 million North American DAUs and 279 million European DAUs, below the FactSet forecasts of 185.4 million and 279.4 million respectively.

The proof was in Facebook's stock, which during the call was down as much 24% from its price at the close of regular trading. "Looking beyond 2018, we anticipate that total expense growth will exceed revenue growth in 2019".

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After the General Data Protection Regulation went into effect in Europe, Facebook started asking people to check their privacy settings and make sure they wanted to share certain kinds of data. In March, the company's handling of user data in the Cambridge Analytica scandal contributed to a backlash against the size and reach of the biggest tech businesses and raised concerns that regulators may soon crack down on these firms.

The company also said revenue growth from emerging markets and the company's Instagram app, which has been less affected by privacy concerns, would not be enough to fix the damage.

New options Facebook is offering users to opt out of certain data collection - inspired in part by a new privacy law in Europe - could lead to less advertising revenue.

Some analysts, however, believe it's more than that. The company is also rapidly expanding its real estate around the world to accommodate a hiring spree, which includes thousands of new workers to help combat foreign election manipulation on the site. But those days are now gone, as the company's second-quarter earnings call made clear.

Siva Vaidhyanathan, a media studies professor at the University of Virginia and author of the new book, "Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy", dismissed the significance of the stock plunge.

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