Twitter shares tumble amid concern over ‘toxic’ content

Advertisers will soon take ‘a hard look’ at platform, says short-seller

Twitter’s decline on Thursday also coincided with a broader market retreat. Photograph: Reuters

Twitter’s decline on Thursday also coincided with a broader market retreat. Photograph: Reuters

 

Twitter shares tumbled on Thursday as investors focused on concerns that inappropriate content on the social media platform will scare off advertisers.

The stock slipped 13.1 per cent to $28.63 (€24.98) in midday trading, hitting its lowest levels since October and putting Twitter on track to post its steepest decline since a 20.5 per cent sell-off on July 27th. Including Thursday’s slide, Twitter has lost more than one-third of its value over the past six months, although it remains up 19.2 per cent on the year.

The latest drop comes amid a report from short-seller Citron Research, which labelled Twitter the “Harvey Weinstein of social media” after an Amnesty International study declared that the platform is a “toxic place for women.” The human rights group said a review of tweets directed at about 800 female journalists and politicians revealed that women are more frequent targets of abusive comments.

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In reaction to the Amnesty International report, Citron said advertisers “will soon be forced to take a hard look at all sponsorships with Twitter.”

Twitter’s decline on Thursday also coincided with a broader market retreat, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite falling more than 2 per cent as Congress and the White House faced a midnight budget deadline to avert a partial government shutdown.

Silicon Valley tech giants have come under scrutiny as lawmakers and regulators look into how social media companies monitor content on their websites and protect users’ data. On Wednesday, Facebook shares were down 7.3 per cent on fresh data privacy concerns, bringing the stock’s year-to-date loss to 22 per cent. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2018