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Reuters/Charles Platiau
How will he do?

Since nobody else wants them, Facebook is buying back its own shares by the billions

Jenny Anderson
By Jenny Anderson

Senior reporter, Editor of How to be Human

Facebook’s board of directors approved a plan this week to buy back an extra $9 billion of the company’s stock. This is on top of a $15 billion share repurchase program launched last year. This chart pretty much sums up the renewed push to prop up the company’s stock price:

The social media giant’s shares have fallen nearly 40% since late July, hit by a steady stream of bad news that includes, but is not limited to, failing to act against Russia’s attempts to influence the 2016 US presidential election; letting the site play a role in stoking ethnic and religious violence in several countries, including Myanmar; allowing advertisers to target users according to categories like “Jew haters”; selectively trading data with other companies to favor partners and punish rivals; and denying and deflecting attention when these various scandals first came to light. And then there’s the general public angst about social media and smartphones harming the mental health of a generation of kids (and their parents, too).

As of the third quarter, the company had some $41 billion of cash on tap, so it has the resources to buy plenty more stock if it felt so inclined. The buyback announcement gave the stock a bit of a bump in after-hours trading on Friday (Dec. 7), but the company’s shares are still down by around 20% so far this year, valuing the company at around $390 billion.

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