We just shared our community update and quarterly results. I’m proud that people can rely on our services to stay connected when we can’t always be together in person, and that we provide small businesses the tools they need to reach customers and stay successful during these challenging times. Here’s what I said on the call.
This was a strong quarter for us, especially compared to what we expected at the start. There are now more than 3.1 billion people using our services every month to stay connected and more than 180 million businesses who use our tools to connect with customers. We also had more than 9 million active advertisers across our services as many shifted their businesses online.
As I said yesterday: the tech industry is an American success story. The products we build have changed the world for the better and improved people’s lives. Our industry is one of the ways that America shares its values with the world, and one of the greatest economic and cultural exports for our country. Facebook is part of this story. We started with an idea — to give people the power to share and connect — and we’ve built services that billions of people find useful. I’m proud that we’ve given people a platform to make their voices heard and given small businesses access to tools that only the largest players used to have.
Since Covid emerged, people have used our services to stay in touch with friends and family who they can’t be with in person, and to keep their businesses running online even when physical stores are closed. In many ways, amidst this very difficult period for people around the world, our services are more important now than ever before.
It’s worth reflecting on this for a moment, because there’s such a fundamental difference between how the vast majority of people actually experience our services, and the impression you’d get if you just read much of the commentary about Facebook.
Imagine going through this pandemic two decades ago when the internet was nascent. Facebook didn’t even exist. Sheltering in place is incredibly disruptive now, but until recently it would have meant almost no connection with your friends and the broader economy. Most of the small businesses whose storefronts had to close would have gone under, and there wouldn’t have been another infrastructure like the internet that they could move quickly to in order to stay afloat.
People sharing their day to day experiences with friends, communicating in groups with people who share interests, watching entertaining content, and buying and selling things – this is how the vast majority of people use our services.
Yet some seem to wrongly assume that most of the content on our services is about politics, news, misinformation, or hate. Let me be clear: it’s not. These make up a small part of the content on our services, although they are all things that people generally tell us they’d like to see even less of. We do not profit from misinformation or hate, and we do not want this content on our platforms. People come to our services to connect with people they care about. That’s why people are using our services at record levels now, and enabling more of those meaningful social interactions is how we succeed.
And we have a plan to further reduce the amount of harmful content. Our AI systems already proactively identify about 90% of hate speech we remove before anyone even reports it — and no other internet service does anything remotely as sophisticated as this — and we are committed to continuing to improve. We’re having an independent audit done of our Community Standards Enforcement Report, which is our transparency report on how effectively we’re removing harmful content. We’re also opening ourselves up to an audit from the Media Rating Council to look at our content monetization policies and brand safety controls, and we’re going to work with the Global Alliance for Responsible Media to provide greater transparency into our measurement of hate speech numbers.
Some also seem to wrongly assume that our business is dependent on a few large advertisers. While we value every single one of the businesses that use our platforms, the biggest part of our business is serving small businesses. Our advertising is one of the most effective tools that small businesses have to find customers, to grow their businesses, and to create jobs.
That’s why I am often troubled by the calls to go after internet advertising, especially during a time of such economic turmoil like we face today with Covid. It’s true that making it more difficult to target ads would affect the revenue of companies like Facebook. But the much bigger cost of such a move would be to reduce the effectiveness of the ads and opportunities for small businesses to grow. This would reduce opportunities for small businesses so much that it would probably be felt at a macro-economic level. Is that really what policymakers want in the middle of a pandemic and recession? The right path, I believe, is regulation that keeps people’s data safe while allowing the benefits of this kind of personalized and relevant advertising.
Looking forward, I expect the rest of this year to continue to be unpredictable:
From a health perspective, with Covid growing quickly in the US, there is currently no end in sight for when our teams here will be able to return to our offices. It is incredibly disappointing because it seems like the US could have avoided this current surge in cases if our government had handled this better. For Facebook’s part, we are continuing to show our Covid Information Center to share authoritative health information. To date, we have directed more than 2 billion people to it to see important health messages, including interviews with Dr. Fauci, and recently, information about why wearing a mask is so important.
During this time, we’ve found that most Facebook employees can work productively remotely. Even before Covid, we had a long-term goal of enabling more remote work since the ability to feel present even when you’re remote is a core aspect of our own product work on video presence, Workplace, and virtual and augmented reality. We’re using this moment to accelerate these plans — and I expect that up to 50% of our employees will be remote long-term within the next 5-10 years. This will enable us to attract and retain broader talent pools regardless of where they live.
Economically, with the initial Cares Act stimulus ending here in the US, it is unclear what the economic outlook will be during this next period. I continue to believe that getting the virus under control is the most important step we can take towards economic recovery. For our part, we are accelerating our work to help small businesses sell online through our services. We launched Facebook Shops to let businesses set up a storefront and sell across our apps, and that’s scaling quickly. We’ll have more to share there soon. WhatsApp Business now has 50 million users and is growing quickly. We’ve also created grant programs to help small businesses during this period — including a $100 million program to support small businesses globally, and another $100 million program specifically to support Black-owned businesses, Black creators and non-profits that serve the Black community here in the US.
Politically, Covid has added a heightened level of uncertainty to this year’s elections. Because of the virus, many people may not want to go to the polls in person, so voting by mail will be more important than ever. Since many people haven’t voted by mail before, it’s critical that we get official voting information in front of people and help people register to vote. We have built a Voting Information Center and our goal is to help 4 million Americans register to vote in this election. This will be the largest voting information drive in American history, and double the number of people we helped register in 2016 and 2018. We’ve already started attaching links to official voting information to any post from political candidates discussing voting. Our goal is to help people register to vote regardless of what these candidates or posts are saying.
We’re also continuing to focus on stopping election interference, including removing voter suppression. We have already broadened these policies and adopted new policies to partner with local election officials to remove false information about voting in the period leading up to the election. We are currently considering additional steps we might take.
With all this going on, I’ve been impressed by how much progress our teams have been able to make on our proactive product priorities around building a private messaging platform, enabling small businesses commerce, and building the future computing platform. We announced Messenger Rooms in April, and people around the world can now join a Room from any one of our apps – or even if you don’t have an account with us at all. We expanded Messenger Kids this quarter to 143 new countries and territories, helping a lot of parents as they look for ways to safely preserve their children’s friendships remotely. And our AR and VR and hardware products keep getting better — we saw an increase in Portal sales across the whole product line this quarter and Quest, which we launched last May, already has more usage than any other device in our ecosystem.
As I told congress yesterday: I am proud of the services we build and how they improve people’s lives. I’m thankful to everyone at Facebook doing this important work, and to all of our partners and everyone else on this journey with us.