Politics & Policy

Twitter Stock Falls 20 Percent Following Fake-Account Purge

Jack Dorsey, CEO and co-founder of Twitter speaks at the Consensus 2018 blockchain technology conference in New York. City, New York, May 16, 2018. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

Twitter shares plummeted during Friday trading following release of the first quarterly earnings report since the company purged millions of fraudulent accounts from its platform.

After gaining roughly 80 percent on the year — and despite the company’s having posted a profit of $134 million this quarter, its third consecutive quarter in the black — Twitter stock fell by roughly 21 percent Friday. The decline appeared to be due to investor concerns about the social-media platform’s stagnating user growth. Twitter’s user count fell by 1 million to 355 million this quarter. The company reportedly began purging roughly 1 million accounts daily in an effort to facilitate conversational “health” on its platform.

“[Health] is one of those things like security or privacy,” CEO Jack Dorsey reportedly said on the Friday earnings call, “where companies have to evolve and companies have to stay ten steps ahead as you learn the dynamics of the network and get better and better. We have made some meaningful progress . . . but there’s still a lot ahead.”

Twitter’s efforts to combat hateful speech and misinformation prompted criticism this week after a Vice News report revealed that the accounts of prominent conservatives, such as RNC chair Ronna McDaniel and a number of Republican lawmakers, were not auto-populating in users’ search windows.

The phenomenon, apparently the result of an algorithm designed to reduce the visibility of hate-mongering accounts, seemingly bolstered Republican lawmakers’ argument that Twitter systematically discriminates against conservatives.

Representative Matt Gaetz (R., Fla.), who aggressively questioned Twitter executives regarding alleged bias in two congressional hearings, has threatened to file a Federal Elections Committee complaint over the company’s treatment of his account.

“The evidence is piling up that I am being treated differently on Twitter than people on the political left and I don’t like that because I enjoy the Twitter platform, I enjoy the engagement, I enjoy the candor,” Gaetz told the Daily Caller. “I would think that having won my election with 69 percent of the vote to serve in the Congress that the marketplace of ideas could accommodate my views.”

“I am contemplating a complaint with the FEC, because if my political opponents have better access to the Twitter platform than I do, that’s no different than a private company giving my political opponents access to a billboard or television time or radio time,” Gaetz added. “That wouldn’t be equal.”

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