Twitter takes a hit despite fake news crackdown

Saturday, 28 July, 2018

Despite its attempts to improve its service and tackle fake news almost £4.6 billion was wiped off the market value of Twitter after the social media giant admitted it had lost a million users.

Twitter shares fell by more than 20% in New York as investors, it was said, were alarmed when the number of active monthly users fell from 336 million to 335 million over the last three months.

Twitter also anticipated further membership loss as it continued to take action to block fake news and autobots that spread spam and offensive material.

We are confident that this is in the best long-term interest of the platform and will enable long-term growth as we improve the health of the public conversation on Twitter.

We are proud of the tangible improvements people are seeing on Twitter. We believe Twitter’s value as a daily utility is enhanced when the conversation on the platform is healthy and people feel safe expressing themselves freely and openly.

- Company spokesperson: Twitter

In its crackdown Twitter has deleted more than 70 million fake or offensive accounts between May and June and continues to delete accounts at an estimated one million a day.

In particular, Twitter admitted that more than 50,000 Russia-linked accounts had used its service during the controversial 2016 US presidential election to post automated material about the election.

Our second quarter results reflect the work we’re doing to ensure more people get value from Twitter every day. We want people to feel safe freely expressing themselves and have launched new tools to address problem behaviours that distort and distract from the public conversation.

We’re also continuing to make it easier for people to find and follow breaking news and events and have introduced machine learning algorithms that organise the conversation around events, beginning with the World Cup.

These efforts contributed to healthy year-over-year daily active usage growth of 11% and demonstrate why we’re investing in the long-term health of Twitter.

- Jack Dorsey: CEO, Twitter

Despite Mr Dorsey’s bullish statement, Twitter shares fell from $42.94 to $34.12, equivalent to a loss of $6 billion being wiped-off its market value, which stood at $30 billion.

It also came the day after shares fell by 19% in value after Twitter revealed it had lost three million European users following the fallout from the Cambridge Analytica data breach and the launch of stricter EU privacy laws.

Image: Alan O’Rourke

Tim Bamford author picture


Tim is a veteran freelance journalist writing extensively on internet news and cybersecurity.