Facebook ended the financial year strongly as the social network reported revenue of more than 5.8 billion US dollars (£4.07bn) for the final three months of 2015.

In total, Mark Zuckerberg’s company posted revenue of 17.9 billion US dollars (£12.5bn) in revenue for the year, up from 12.4 billion US dollars (£8.7bn) in 2014, an increase of 44%. The number of monthly active users – a key measuring stick – was also up, 14% on 2014 to 1.59 billion users.

Just over one billion of those use Facebook every day, and 934 million of those access the site on a mobile device, a crucial market as smartphones and tablets begin to dominate time spent online.

Co-founder Mark Zuckerberg said of the results: “2015 was a great year for Facebook. Our community continued to grow and our business is thriving. We continue to invest in better serving our community, building our business, and connecting the world.”

The social network beat analyst expectations across the board, and cemented its place as the largest site of its kind in the world. The power of advertising was also emphasised as Facebook disclosed 5.6 billion US dollars (£3.9bn) in revenue for the quarter, an increase of 57% on the same period in 2014. Advertising on mobile devices accounted for around 80% of all advertising revenue, the social network also said.

The site has expanded rapidly in recent years – no longer just a social network, Facebook has since moved in to virtual reality with the purchase of Oculus, makers of the Rift VR headset, and the affiliate company, which is using high-flying drones to bring internet connectivity to remote corners of the world.

Industry expert and founder of consumer technology website Pocket-lint, Stuart Miles, suggested that Facebook was benefiting from embracing the smartphone and tablet and the latest results meant the company could afford to try new things in the coming years.

“I think the results show that Facebook’s efforts over the last couple of years to really understand mobile have paid off,” he said.

“The success will give Zuckerberg plenty of leeway to explore new options and new revenue streams, like virtual reality, in the future without too much scrutiny.”

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