Facebook highlighted the strong role played by story-style features offered across several of its apps in boosting revenue in the opening quarter, as it booked steady growth in daily active user (DAUs) numbers.

In its earnings statement, the company revealed its Facebook Stories feature had racked up 500 million DAUs by end-March, up from 300 million at end-September 2018. WhatsApp Status, a similar feature for the messaging app, also now boasts that figure, while Instagram Stories hit the milestone three months ago.

On an earnings call, COO Sheryl Sandberg (pictured) noted 3 million advertisers were using story features “to reach customers across Instagram, Facebook, and Messenger”.

“Last month, we introduced Interactive Stories Ads globally on Instagram. People and businesses already use interactive features to start conversations in their Stories and now advertisers can use polling stickers to stand out and drive results,” she added.

Mobile advertising revenue grew 30 per cent year-on-year to $13.9 billion in Q1, approximately 93 per cent of Facebook’s total advertising turnover.

By contrast, stories feature pioneer Snapchat reported 190 million DAUs at end-March.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg also used the earnings call to reiterate a renewed focus on privacy, stating Facebook and Instagram will be rebuilt along the lines of WhatsApp.

“Our plan is to build this the way we’ve developed WhatsApp: focus on the most fundamental and private use case – messaging – make it as secure as possible with end-to-end encryption, and then build more ways for people to interact on top of that,” he said.

As for how this will affect the business, Zuckerberg stated: “We don’t use the content of messages between people to target ads today, so encrypting that content won’t change what we do. It will strengthen people’s privacy without meaningfully affecting our business.”

Facebook has been mired in controversies around privacy ever since news of a data breach broke in March 2018.