The Twitter Inc [NYSE:TWTR] share price sits at US$30.81 at time of writing. At market closing yesterday of the New York Stock Exchange, Twitter shares were down 5.85% from the previous day’s figures. Even after hours trading caused a further decrease in share price by around six cents.
Last Thursday, 30 August, Twitter was trading around $35.65 per share for the duration of the open market. This means the social media giant has plummeted in its share value by a whopping 13.6% in just over a week.
What has happened?
On Wednesday the US Government invited tech executives to testify before congress in a series of high profile hearings.
Among those who attended were Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey, as well as Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg.
The subject matter of these interrogations was the issues of these expansive social networks meddling with the US election. The main concerns were of voter manipulation through propaganda, as well as encouraging violent behaviour on their media platforms. Of course, the agenda veered slightly off-course.
Since the hearing, Twitter’s share price has been falling at a consistent pace.
What was said to make investors flee?
It isn’t news that Twitter’s motivation is to provide a platform for free speech for the global community. And Dorsey reiterated this in the opening of his testament:
‘Twitter’s purpose is to serve the public conversation. We are an American company that serves our global audience by focusing on the people who use our service, and we put them first in every step we take.
‘Twitter is used as a global town square, where people from around the world come together in an open and free exchange of ideas. We must be a trusted and healthy place that supports free and open discussion.’
But this ‘open discussion’ has allowed a more negative form of free speech — known as ‘hate’ speech — to circulate through the Twitter news feed. Notably, Dorsey did not deny this:
‘Twitter’s health is measured by how we help encourage more healthy debate, conversations, and critical thinking. Conversely, abuse, malicious automation, and manipulation detracts from the health of our platform. We are committed to hold ourselves publicly accountable towards progress of our health initiative.’
These are promising statements to make, and do reflect the positive motivations behind their media design. But Twitter’s actions have sung an altogether different tune…
Allowing Alex Jones to keep his attacking account
The hearing brought to light Dorsey’s decision to reinstate the account of American radio host Alex Jones.
Mr Jones has sparked recent controversy on Twitter over his claims that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was a hoax. These claims resulted in legal action taken against him on behalf of some of the victims’ families.
In the heyday of this scandal, Jones’ Twitter account was put on read-only mode, leaving his tweets visible to the public but denying him access to make further comment.
But despite this behaviour, Dorsey had stated he was not banning Mr Jones from Twitter simply because ‘he hasn’t violated our rules’.
‘We’ll enforce if he does. And we’ll continue to promote a healthy conversational environment by ensuring tweets aren’t artificially amplified,’ Dorsey insisted.
Understandably, much discussion at the Congress hearing was in regard to the lack of proper sanctions to prohibit perceived hate speech.
In response to these inquiries, Dorsey said, ‘We believe people will learn faster by being exposed to a wide range of opinions and ideas…We aren’t proud of how that free and open exchange has been weaponised and used to distract and divide people, and our nation.’
What this could mean for Twitter’s stock
It appears investors are unimpressed with the lack of action against inhibiting users like Alex Jones to have access to this social media entity.
Today, however, it has been announced that Mr Jones is ‘permanently suspended’ from Twitter, and that a review will be conducted on any associated accounts.
It remains to be seen whether this will spark a turnaround in the Twitter share price in the weeks to come.
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