|Summary of Significant Accounting Policies
Organization and Description of Business
Facebook was incorporated in Delaware in July 2004. Our mission is to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together. We generate substantially all of our revenue from advertising.
Basis of Presentation
We prepared the consolidated financial statements in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). The consolidated financial statements include the accounts of Facebook, Inc., subsidiaries where we have controlling financial interests, and any variable interest entities for which we are deemed to be the primary beneficiary. All intercompany balances and transactions have been eliminated.
Use of Estimates
Conformity with GAAP requires the use of estimates and judgments that affect the reported amounts in the consolidated financial statements and accompanying notes. These estimates form the basis for judgments we make about the carrying values of our assets and liabilities, which are not readily apparent from other sources. We base our estimates and judgments on historical information and on various other assumptions that we believe are reasonable under the circumstances. GAAP requires us to make estimates and judgments in several areas, including, but not limited to, those related to income taxes, loss contingencies, fair value of acquired intangible assets and goodwill, collectability of accounts receivable, fair value of financial instruments, leases, useful lives of intangible assets and property and equipment, and revenue recognition. These estimates are based on management's knowledge about current events and expectations about actions we may undertake in the future. Actual results could differ materially from those estimates.
Revenue is recognized when control of the promised goods or services is transferred to our customers, in an amount that reflects the consideration we expect to be entitled to in exchange for those goods or services.
We determine revenue recognition through the following steps:
identification of the contract, or contracts, with a customer;
identification of the performance obligations in the contract;
determination of the transaction price;
allocation of the transaction price to the performance obligations in the contract; and
recognition of revenue when, or as, we satisfy a performance obligation.
Revenue excludes sales and usage‑based taxes where it has been determined that we are acting as a pass‑through agent.
Advertising revenue is generated by displaying ad products on Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and third-party affiliated websites or mobile applications. Marketers pay for ad products either directly or through their relationships with advertising agencies or resellers, based on the number of impressions delivered or the number of actions, such as clicks, taken by our users.
We recognize revenue from the display of impression-based ads in the contracted period in which the impressions are delivered. Impressions are considered delivered when an ad is displayed to users. We recognize revenue from the delivery of action-based ads in the period in which a user takes the action the marketer contracted for. For advertising revenue arrangements where we are not the principal, we recognize revenue on a net basis.
We may accept lower consideration than the amount promised per the contract for certain revenue transactions and certain customers may receive cash-based incentives or credits, which are accounted for as variable consideration when estimating the amount of revenue to recognize. We believe that there will not be significant changes to our estimates of variable consideration.
Other revenue consists of revenue from the delivery of consumer hardware devices, net fees we receive from developers using our Payments infrastructure, as well as revenue from various other sources.
Deferred Revenue and Deposits
Deferred revenue mostly consists of billings and payments we receive from marketers in advance of revenue recognition. Deposits relate to unused balances held on behalf of our users who primarily use these balances to make purchases in games on our platform. Once this balance is utilized by a user, the majority of this amount would then be payable to the developer and the balance would be recognized as revenue. The increase in the deferred revenue balance for the year ended December 31, 2019 was driven by cash payments from customers in advance of satisfying our performance obligations, offset by revenue recognized that was included in the deferred revenue balance at the beginning of the period.
Our payment terms vary by the products or services offered. The term between billings and when payment is due is not significant. For certain products or services and customer types, we require payment before the products or services are delivered to the customer.
Practical Expedients and Exemptions
We generally expense sales commissions when incurred because the amortization period would have been one year or less. These costs are recorded within marketing and sales on our consolidated statements of income.
We do not disclose the value of unsatisfied performance obligations for (i) contracts with an original expected length of one year or less and (ii) contracts for which we recognize revenue at the amount to which we have the right to invoice for services performed.
Cost of Revenue
Our cost of revenue consists primarily of expenses associated with the delivery and distribution of our products. These include expenses related to the operation of our data centers and technical infrastructure, such as facility and server equipment depreciation, salaries, benefits, and share-based compensation for employees on our operations teams, and energy and bandwidth costs. Cost of revenue also includes costs associated with partner arrangements, including traffic acquisition and content acquisition costs, credit card and other transaction fees related to processing customer transactions, and cost of consumer hardware devices sold.
Content acquisition costs
We license and pay to produce content in order to increase engagement on the platform. For licensed content, the capitalized amounts are limited to the greater of estimated net realizable value or cost on a per title basis. We expense the cost per title in cost of revenue on the consolidated statements of income when the title is accepted and available for viewing, and before the capitalization criteria are met. For original content, we expense costs associated with the production, including development costs and direct costs as incurred, unless those amounts are determined to be recoverable. Expensed original content costs are included in cost of revenue on the consolidated statements of income.
Content acquisition costs that meet the criteria for capitalization were not material to date.
Software Development Costs
Software development costs, including costs to develop software products or the software component of products to be sold, leased, or marketed to external users, are expensed before the software or technology reach technological feasibility, which is typically reached shortly before the release of such products.
Software development costs also include costs to develop software to be used solely to meet internal needs and applications used to deliver our services. These software development costs meet the criteria for capitalization once the preliminary project stage is complete and it is probable that the project will be completed and the software will be used to perform the function intended.
Development costs that meet the criteria for capitalization were not material to date.
We are subject to income taxes in the United States and numerous foreign jurisdictions. Significant judgment is required in determining our provision for income taxes and income tax assets and liabilities, including evaluating uncertainties in the application of accounting principles and complex tax laws.
We record a provision for income taxes for the anticipated tax consequences of the reported results of operations using the asset and liability method. Under this method, we recognize deferred income tax assets and liabilities for the expected future consequences of temporary differences between the financial reporting and tax bases of assets and liabilities, as well as for loss and tax credit carryforwards. Deferred tax assets and liabilities are measured using the tax rates that are expected to apply to taxable income for the years in which those tax assets and liabilities are expected to be realized or settled. We recognize the deferred income tax effects of a change in tax rates in the period of the enactment.
We record a valuation allowance to reduce our deferred tax assets to the net amount that we believe is more likely than not to be realized. We consider all available evidence, both positive and negative, including historical levels of income, expectations and risks associated with estimates of future taxable income and ongoing tax planning strategies in assessing the need for a valuation allowance.
We recognize tax benefits from uncertain tax positions only if we believe that it is more likely than not that the tax position will be sustained on examination by the taxing authorities based on the technical merits of the position. These uncertain tax positions include our estimates for transfer pricing that have been developed based upon analyses of appropriate arms-length prices. Similarly, our estimates related to uncertain tax positions concerning research tax credits are based on an assessment of whether our available documentation corroborating the nature of our activities supporting the tax credits will be sufficient. Although we believe that we have adequately reserved for our uncertain tax positions (including net interest and penalties), we can provide no assurance that the final tax outcome of these matters will not be materially different. We make adjustments to these reserves in accordance with the income tax guidance when facts and circumstances change, such as the closing of a tax audit or the refinement of an estimate. To the extent that the final tax outcome of these matters is different from the amounts recorded, such differences will affect the provision for income taxes in the period in which such determination is made and could have a material impact on our financial condition and operating results.
Advertising costs are expensed when incurred and are included in marketing and sales expenses in the accompanying consolidated statements of income. We incurred advertising expenses of $1.57 billion, $1.10 billion, and $324 million for the years ended December 31, 2019, 2018, and 2017, respectively.
Cash and Cash Equivalents, Marketable Securities, and Restricted Cash
Cash and cash equivalents consist of cash on deposit with banks and highly liquid investments with maturities of 90 days or less from the date of purchase.
We hold investments in marketable securities, consisting of U.S. government securities, U.S. government agency securities, and investment grade corporate debt securities. We classify our marketable securities as available-for-sale investments in our current assets because they represent investments of cash available for current operations. Our available-for-sale investments are carried at estimated fair value with any unrealized gains and losses, net of taxes, included in accumulated other comprehensive income (loss) in stockholders' equity. Unrealized losses are charged against interest and other income, net when a decline in fair value is determined to be other-than-temporary. We have not recorded any such impairment charge in the periods
presented. We determine realized gains or losses on sale of marketable securities on a specific identification method, and record such gains or losses as interest and other income, net.
We also maintain a multi-currency notional cash pool for our participating entities with a third-party bank provider. Actual cash balances are not physically converted and are not commingled between participating legal entities. We classify the overdraft balances within accrued expenses and other current liabilities on the accompanying consolidated balance sheets.
We classify certain restricted cash balances within prepaid expenses and other current assets and other assets on the accompanying consolidated balance sheets based upon the term of the remaining restrictions.
Fair Value of Financial Instruments
We apply fair value accounting for all financial assets and liabilities and non-financial assets and liabilities that are recognized or disclosed at fair value in the financial statements on a recurring basis. We define fair value as the price that would be received from selling an asset or paid to transfer a liability in an orderly transaction between market participants at the measurement date. When determining the fair value measurements for assets and liabilities, which are required to be recorded at fair value, we consider the principal or most advantageous market in which we would transact and the market-based risk measurements or assumptions that market participants would use in pricing the asset or liability, such as risks inherent in valuation techniques, transfer restrictions and credit risk. Fair value is estimated by applying the following hierarchy, which prioritizes the inputs used to measure fair value into three levels and bases the categorization within the hierarchy upon the lowest level of input that is available and significant to the fair value measurement:
Level 1-Quoted prices in active markets for identical assets or liabilities.
Level 2-Observable inputs other than quoted prices in active markets for identical assets and liabilities, quoted prices for identical or similar assets or liabilities in inactive markets, or other inputs that are observable or can be corroborated by observable market data for substantially the full term of the assets or liabilities.
Level 3-Inputs that are generally unobservable and typically reflect management's estimate of assumptions that market participants would use in pricing the asset or liability.
Our valuation techniques used to measure the fair value of cash equivalents and marketable debt securities were derived from quoted market prices or alternative pricing sources and models utilizing observable market inputs.
Accounts Receivable and Allowances
Accounts receivable are recorded and carried at the original invoiced amount less an allowance for any potential uncollectible amounts. We make estimates for the allowance for doubtful accounts and allowance for unbilled receivables based upon our assessment of various factors, including historical experience, the age of the accounts receivable balances, credit quality of our customers, current economic conditions, and other factors that may affect our ability to collect from customers.
Property and Equipment
Property and equipment, which includes amounts recorded under finance leases, are stated at cost less accumulated depreciation. Depreciation is computed using the straight-line method over the estimated useful lives of the assets or the remaining lease term, whichever is shorter.
The estimated useful lives of property and equipment are described below:
Property and Equipment
Three to 20 years
Three to 30 years
Computer software, office equipment and other
Two to five years
Finance lease right-of-use assets
Three to 20 years
Lesser of estimated useful life or remaining lease term
The useful lives of our property and equipment are determined by management when those assets are initially recognized and are routinely reviewed for the remaining estimated useful lives. Our current estimate of useful lives represents the best estimate of the useful lives based on current facts and circumstances, but may differ from the actual useful lives due to changes in future circumstances such as changes to our business operations, changes in the planned use of assets, and technological advancements. When we change the estimated useful life assumption for any asset, the remaining carrying amount of the asset is accounted for prospectively and depreciated or amortized over the revised estimated useful life. Historically changes in useful lives have not resulted in material changes to our depreciation and amortization expense.
Land and assets held within construction in progress are not depreciated. Construction in progress is related to the construction or development of property and equipment that have not yet been placed in service for their intended use.
The cost of maintenance and repairs is expensed as incurred. When assets are retired or otherwise disposed of, the cost and related accumulated depreciation are removed from their respective accounts, and any gain or loss on such sale or disposal is reflected in income from operations.
On January 1, 2019, we adopted Accounting Standards Update No. 2016-02, Leases (Topic 842) (ASU 2016-02) using the modified retrospective transition approach by applying the new standard to all leases existing at the date of initial application. Results and disclosure requirements for reporting periods beginning after January 1, 2019 are presented under Topic 842, while prior period amounts have not been adjusted and continue to be reported in accordance with our historical accounting under Topic 840.
We elected the package of practical expedients permitted under the transition guidance, which allowed us to carryforward our historical lease classification, our assessment on whether a contract was or contains a lease, and our initial direct costs for any leases that existed prior to January 1, 2019. We also elected to combine our lease and non-lease components and to keep leases with an initial term of 12 months or less off the balance sheet and recognize the associated lease payments in the consolidated statements of income on a straight-line basis over the lease term. Additionally, for certain equipment leases, we apply a portfolio approach to effectively account for the operating lease right-of-use (ROU) assets and lease liabilities.
Upon adoption, we recognized total ROU assets of $6.63 billion, with corresponding lease liabilities of $6.35 billion on the consolidated balance sheets. This included $761 million of pre-existing finance lease ROU assets previously reported in the network equipment within property and equipment, net. The ROU assets include adjustments for prepayments and accrued lease payments. The adoption did not impact our beginning retained earnings, or our prior year consolidated statements of income and statements of cash flows.
Under Topic 842, we determine if an arrangement is a lease at inception. ROU assets and lease liabilities are recognized at commencement date based on the present value of remaining lease payments over the lease term. For this purpose, we consider only payments that are fixed and determinable at the time of commencement. As most of our leases do not provide an implicit rate, we use our incremental borrowing rate based on the information available at commencement date in determining the present value of lease payments. Our incremental borrowing rate is a hypothetical rate based on our understanding of what our credit rating would be. The ROU asset also includes any lease payments made prior to commencement and is recorded net of any lease incentives received. Our lease terms may include options to extend or terminate the lease when it is reasonably certain that we will exercise such options. When determining the probability of exercising such options, we consider contract-based, asset-based, entity-based, and market-based factors. Our lease agreements may contain variable costs such as common area maintenance, insurance, real estate taxes or other costs. Variable lease costs are expensed as incurred on the consolidated statements of income. Our lease agreements generally do not contain any residual value guarantees or restrictive covenants.
Operating leases are included in operating lease ROU assets, operating lease liabilities, current and operating lease liabilities, non-current on our consolidated balance sheets. Finance leases are included in property and equipment, accrued expenses and other current liabilities, and other liabilities on our consolidated balance sheets.
We are involved in legal proceedings, claims, and regulatory, tax or government inquiries and investigations that arise in the ordinary course of business. Certain of these matters include speculative claims for substantial or indeterminate amounts of damages. We evaluate the developments on a regular basis and accrue a liability when we believe that it is both probable that a loss has been incurred and the amount can be reasonably estimated. If we determine there is a reasonable possibility that we may incur a loss and the loss or range of loss can be estimated, we disclose the possible loss in the notes to the consolidated financial statements to the extent material.
We review the developments in our contingencies that could affect the amount of the provisions that has been previously recorded, and the matters and related possible losses disclosed. We make adjustments to our provisions and changes to our disclosures accordingly to reflect the impact of negotiations, settlements, rulings, advice of legal counsel, and updated information. Significant judgment is required to determine both the probability of loss and the estimated amount of loss.
We allocate the fair value of purchase consideration to the tangible assets acquired, liabilities assumed and intangible assets acquired based on their estimated fair values. The excess of the fair value of purchase consideration over the fair values of these identifiable assets and liabilities is recorded as goodwill. Such valuations require management to make significant estimates and assumptions, especially with respect to intangible assets. Significant estimates in valuing certain intangible assets include, but are not limited to, future expected cash flows from acquired users, acquired technology, and trade names from a market participant perspective, useful lives and discount rates. Management's estimates of fair value are based upon assumptions believed to be reasonable, but which are inherently uncertain and unpredictable and, as a result, actual results may differ from estimates. Allocation of purchase consideration to identifiable assets and liabilities affects Company amortization expense, as acquired finite-lived intangible assets are amortized over the useful life, whereas any indefinite lived intangible assets, including goodwill, are not amortized. During the measurement period, which is not to exceed one year from the acquisition date, we may record adjustments to the assets acquired and liabilities assumed, with the corresponding offset to goodwill. Upon the conclusion of the measurement period, any subsequent adjustments are recorded to earnings.
Long-lived Assets Including Goodwill and Other Acquired Intangibles Assets
We evaluate the recoverability of property and equipment and acquired finite-lived intangible assets for possible impairment whenever events or circumstances indicate that the carrying amount of such assets may not be recoverable. The evaluation is performed at the lowest level for which identifiable cash flows are largely independent of the cash flows of other assets and liabilities. Recoverability of these assets is measured by a comparison of the carrying amounts to the future undiscounted cash flows the assets are expected to generate from the use and eventual disposition. If such review indicates that the carrying amount of property and equipment and intangible assets is not recoverable, the carrying amount of such assets is reduced to fair value. We have not recorded any significant impairment charges during the years presented.
We review goodwill for impairment at least annually or more frequently if events or changes in circumstances would more likely than not reduce the fair value of our single reporting unit below its carrying value. As of December 31, 2019, no impairment of goodwill has been identified.
Acquired finite-lived intangible assets are amortized on a straight-line basis over the estimated useful lives of the assets. We routinely review the remaining estimated useful lives of property and equipment and finite-lived intangible assets. If we change the estimated useful life assumption for any asset, the remaining unamortized balance is amortized or depreciated over the revised estimated useful life.
Generally, the functional currency of our international subsidiaries is the local currency. We translate the financial statements of these subsidiaries to U.S. dollars using month-end rates of exchange for assets and liabilities, and average rates of exchange for revenue, costs, and expenses. Translation gains and losses are recorded in accumulated other comprehensive loss as a component of stockholders' equity. As of December 31, 2019 and 2018, we had a cumulative translation loss, net of tax of $617 million and $466 million, respectively. Net losses resulting from foreign exchange transactions were $105 million, $213 million, and $6 million for the years ended December 31, 2019, 2018, and 2017, respectively. These losses were recorded as interest and other income, net in our consolidated statements of income.
Credit Risk and Concentration
Our financial instruments that are potentially subject to concentrations of credit risk consist primarily of cash, cash equivalents, restricted cash, marketable securities, and accounts receivable. The majority of cash equivalents consists of money market funds, that primarily invest in U.S. government and agency securities. Marketable securities consist of investments in U.S. government securities, U.S. government agency securities, and investment grade corporate debt securities. Our investment portfolio in corporate debt securities is highly liquid and diversified among individual issuers.
Accounts receivable are typically unsecured and are derived from revenue earned from customers across different industries and countries. We generated 43% of our revenue for the years ended December 31, 2019 and 2018 and 44% of our revenue for the year ended December 31, 2017 from marketers and developers based in the United States, with the majority of revenue outside of the United States coming from customers located in western Europe, China, Canada, Brazil, and Australia.
We perform ongoing credit evaluations of our customers and generally do not require collateral. We maintain an allowance for estimated credit losses. Bad debt expense was not material during the years ended December 31, 2019, 2018, or 2017. In the event that accounts receivable collection cycles deteriorate, our operating results and financial position could be adversely affected.
No customer represented 10% or more of total revenue during the years ended December 31, 2019, 2018, and 2017.
Our chief operating decision-maker is our Chief Executive Officer who makes resource allocation decisions and assesses performance based on financial information presented on a consolidated basis. There are no segment managers who are held accountable by the chief operating decision-maker, or anyone else, for operations, operating results, and planning for levels or components below the consolidated unit level. Accordingly, we have determined that we have a single reportable segment and operating segment structure.
Recently Adopted Accounting Pronouncements
On January 1, 2019, we adopted Topic 842, as amended, which supersedes the lease accounting guidance under Topic 840, and generally requires lessees to recognize operating and financing lease liabilities and corresponding ROU assets on the balance sheet and to provide enhanced disclosures surrounding the amount, timing and uncertainty of cash flows arising from leasing arrangements. We adopted the new guidance using the modified retrospective transition approach by applying the new standard to all leases existing at the date of initial application and not restating comparative periods. The most significant impact was the recognition of ROU assets and lease liabilities for operating leases, while our accounting for finance leases remained substantially unchanged. For information regarding the impact of Topic 842 adoption, see Significant Accounting Policies - Leases above and Note 7 - Leases.
On October 1, 2019, we early adopted Accounting Standards Update No. 2017-04, Intangibles—Goodwill and Other (Topic 350): Simplifying the Test for Goodwill Impairment (ASU 2017-04) using the prospective approach, which eliminates step two from the goodwill impairment test. Under ASU 2017-04, an entity should recognize an impairment charge for the amount by which the carrying amount of a reporting unit exceeds its fair value up to the amount of goodwill allocated to that reporting unit. This guidance was effective beginning January 1, 2020, with early adoption permitted. The adoption of this new standard did not have a material impact on our consolidated financial statements.
On October 1, 2019, we early adopted Accounting Standards Update No. 2019-02, Entertainment-Films-Other Assets-Film Costs (Subtopic 926-20) and Entertainment-Broadcasters-Intangibles-Goodwill and Other (Subtopic 920-350): Improvements to Accounting for Costs of Films and License Agreements for Program Materials (ASU 2019-02) using the prospective approach, which eliminates certain revenue-related constraints on capitalization of inventory costs for episodic television that existed under prior guidance. In addition, the balance sheet classification requirements that existed in prior guidance for film production costs and programming inventory were eliminated. This guidance was effective beginning January 1, 2020, with early adoption permitted. The adoption of this new standard did not have a material impact on our consolidated financial statements.
Recent Accounting Pronouncements Not Yet Adopted
In June 2016, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) issued Accounting Standard Update No. 2016-13, Financial Instruments-Credit Losses (Topic 326): Measurement of Credit Losses on Financial Instruments (ASU 2016-13), which requires the measurement and recognition of expected credit losses for financial assets held at amortized cost. ASU 2016-13 replaces the existing incurred loss impairment model with a forward-looking expected credit loss model which will result in earlier recognition of credit losses. We will adopt the new standard effective January 1, 2020 and do not expect the adoption of this guidance to have a material impact on our consolidated financial statements.
In August 2018, the FASB issued Accounting Standard Update No. 2018-13, Changes to Disclosure Requirements for Fair Value Measurements (Topic 820) (ASU 2018-13), which improved the effectiveness of disclosure requirements for recurring and nonrecurring fair value measurements. The standard removes, modifies, and adds certain disclosure requirements. We will adopt the new standard effective January 1, 2020 and do not expect the adoption of this guidance to have a material impact on our consolidated financial statements.
In December 2019, the FASB issued Accounting Standard Update No. 2019-12, Income Taxes (Topic 740): Simplifying the Accounting for Income Taxes (ASU 2019-12), which simplifies the accounting for income taxes. This guidance will be effective for us in the first quarter of 2021 on a prospective basis, and early adoption is permitted. We are currently evaluating the impact of the new guidance on our consolidated financial statements.