Facebook CFO David Wehner says new EU privacy rules could impact daily user numbers

  • Facebook CFO David Wehner said coming privacy rules in the European Union could impact the number of people there who use the service every day.
  • There "could be some implication on DAUs (daily active users)" because of the coming regulations, Wehner told a Morgan Stanley investor conference.
David Wehner, Facebook CFO
Source: Facebook
David Wehner, Facebook CFO

Facebook CFO David Wehner said Wednesday that pending online privacy changes in the European Union could impact how many people use the service in that region every day.

There "could be some implication on DAUs (daily active users)" because of the coming regulations, Wehner told investors at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom conference. Investors "may want to watch that," Wehner said.

The new rules, known as the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, will take effect in two months. They will require internet companies to get permission from users before collecting or sharing their personal data.

"We'll be compliant with GDPR when it goes into effect in May," Wehner said. "It's about how you design your product. We'll walk EU users through [a series of] permission screens."

Facebook had 277 million daily active users in Europe in the fourth quarter, up 5.7 percent from a year earlier.

That was more than the 184 million it had in the U.S. and Canada last quarter. The Asia-Pacific region is Facebook's largest market, with 499 million DAUs.

Wehner also said the company doesn't expect that the number of daily users in the U.S. and Canada to continue to decline year-over-year, as it did in the fourth quarter.

"That decline is a trend we don't see continuing," Wehner said, essentially repeating comments he made on Facebook's last earnings conference call.

Wehner also suggested that Facebook's profit margin will decline over time as a larger share of its business comes from regions outside of North America.

"We won't have as high an ARPU (average revenue per user) in other countries (as in the U.S. and Canada) while the cost structure is the same," Wehner said.

The company's overall ratio of costs to revenue "will reflect that," he said.

Facebook's ARPU in the U.S. and Canada was $26.76 in the fourth quarter, far higher than its overall global ARPU of $6.18.

Facebook closed down 1.7 percent Wednesday.