Twitter “Toxic” to Advertisers and Investors: Amnesty International Report

Late last year, Twitter shares fell over 11% after a blistering report from Amnesty International stated that it found over 7.1% of 228,000 tweets sent to 778 female journalists and politicians in the US and UK were problematic or abusive. Further, the report called the social network toxic to investors and advertisers.


Toxic and “Uninvestible”

The findings were part of Troll Patrol project, which was a joint effort by technical experts, human rights researchers and thousands of online volunteers to build the largest crowd-sourced dataset of online abuse against women worldwide.

After the report was published, Citron Research, which is led by investor Andrew Left, announced that Twitter is “uninvestible.” Further, the report predicted that advertisers would be compelled to examine their sponsorships with the company. The findings discovered that women are being send abusive messages on the network every 30 seconds.  Citron warned that people are willing to leave brands when issues of racism and sexism are on the line.

In March, Left had said that he was shorting Twitter, which means he was betting on a fall in the stock price.  Of course, this in itself raises questions about his objectivity, considering that his own announcement, with its blistering critique, caused Twitter shares to fall so sharply, to his own benefit.

Their findings reinforce the previous research of Amnesty International into online violence and abuse against women. They found that women of color were 34% more likely to face problematic or abusive tweets as compared to white women. Further, the findings noted that black women were targeted disproportionately – they were 84% more likely to be mentioned in problematic or abusive tweets compared to white women.

Shares drop almost 12% after warning

After the Citron Research group made its announcement, Twitter shares declined by about 12%. The Citron report also called the company the “Harvey Weinstein of social media” and censured the social network for not being to tackle abuse and violence on its platform. The firm said it was having a “chilling effect on freedom of expression online”.

Citron noted that the hate on the platform is real and the social network is not taking proper steps to stop this problem. The group further said that advertisers will be compelled to make more “morality-based brand building decisions.”

Vijaya Gadde, Twitter Chief Legal Officer, said in response to the Amnesty report that the company has committed to publicly improving the collective openness, civility and health of public conversation on its service. Gadde said that the health of the platform is measured by how it aids in encouraging more healthy conversations, critical thinking and debate. Further, Gadded added that Twitter is committed to holding itself publicly accountable towards progress in this regard.

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