07:48 GMT26 February 2020
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    The news comes as the US tech giant faces tighter scrutiny leading up to the 2020 US elections, with its CEO pledging to remain "extremely focused" on election security, in addition to numerous class-action lawsuit settlements over its policy and surveillance technologies.

    US social media giant Facebook saw its shares plummet on Thursday after its 2019 fourth quarter results exceeded expectations but indicated one of the slowest growth periods in the company's history.

    According to stock closings on Wednesday evening, shares for the company hovered at $2.56, just above forecasts of $2.53, with year-on-year revenues topping 25 percent at $21.08bn compared to estimates of $20.9bn, a press release revealed.

    But the earnings and growth, the lowest in history, indicate a major slowdown in international markets. Shares also nosedived 7 percent after trading hours.

    Despite this, active users globally jumped 8 percent in the period to 2.5bn, just slightly higher than forecasts of 2.49bn, with growth slowing in North America after only 1m new users signed up in the US and Canada.

    But expenses for the company rose 34 percent YOY to $12bn, causing concerns for shareholders and Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, to lose $5bn in net worth, according to Forbes.

    In a statement, Mr Zuckerberg said that the company had a "good quarter and strong end to the year" as the business continued to grow its earnings and communities.

    He added: "We remain focused on building services that help people stay connected to those they care about.

    Facebook Under the Hammer Of The Courts, Congress, and Commission

    Problems for the Menlo Park-based company have reportedly grown in recent years, following the 2018 Cambridge Analytica scandal, prompting US lawmakers to crackdown on the tech giant. Facebook was later forced to pay £5bn in penalties to the Federal Trade Commission - the largest in the company's history.

    A $550m class-action lawsuit was settled on Facebook's use of facial recognition software in Illinois in August last year, with prosecutors stating that there was "simply no recourse" if biometric data was compromised.

    Sean Williams, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said at the time as quoted by Reuters: “It’s not like a Social Security card or credit card number where you can change the number. You can’t change your face.

    The company's digital currency, Libra, also suffered setbacks from lawmakers in 2019 after European Union finance ministers blocked the currency from use across the bloc. Several European countries such as Italy, the UK, Ireland and France, among others, also vowed to force the US tech firm to pay its fair share of taxes.

    A further lawsuit was launched in federal courts in January after four tech companies accused Facebook for anticompetitive behaviour after blocking developer access to the social media platform.

    Related:

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    Swiss President Says Facebook’s Libra Cryptocurrency Project Has Failed
    Suit Filed Against Zuckerberg Cites ‘Anticompetitive Scheme,’ Demands Facebook CEO Sell Shares
    Facebook Pledges 1,000 New London Hires to Improve Online Safety
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    Mark Zuckerberg, probe, lawsuit, surveillance, Facebook
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