One short-seller rips “toxic” company for its apparent inability to block abusive tweets aimed at women
A rough day on Wall Street was especially painful for Twitter, with its stock price dropping more than 10 percent after the company was dubbed the “Harvey Weinstein of social media” by short-seller Citron Research.
In a note published Thursday morning, Citron blasted Twitter for its “toxic” culture, pointing to a new Amnesty International study that showed women are routinely peppered with “problematic” and “abusive” tweets. The study, looking at a yearlong sample of tweets for 778 women, found 7.1 percent of tweets were “problematic” or “abusive” — coming out to one tweet every 30 seconds on average.
“Twitter’s failure to effectively tackle violence and abuse on the platform has a chilling effect on freedom of expression online and undermines women’s mobilization for equality and justice – particularly groups of women who already face discrimination and marginalization,” the study said.
Citron — which announced it had gone short, or bet against the company’s success, in March — lowered its Twitter price target to $20. Twitter, after dropping 11 percent, hit $29.29 per share as markets closed on Thursday.
The Weinstein comparison quickly grabbed headlines for obvious reasons. The disgraced moviemaker was at the center of Hollywood’s #MeToo movement last year, after several actresses accused him of sexual assault. Weinstein will soon go to trial facing five counts, including rape, after a New York judge shot down his attorneys’ attempt to dismiss his case on Thursday. He’s accused of raping a woman in a New York hotel room in 2013 and forcibly performing oral sex on another woman at his Manhattan apartment in 2006.
Perhaps ironically, Twitter has taken several measures to curb bullying on its platform this year, including hiding mean tweets at the bottom of reply threads. It’s also been derided by conservatives, claiming the company has arbitrarily purged several right-wing voices — including digital conspiracy theorist Alex Jones — for violating its policy against abusive behavior.