Human rights group report gains traction, Twitter hammered


NEW YORK (AP) — A report on Twitter by the human rights group Amnesty International is gaining traction and the company’s shares were punished Thursday, suffering one of their worst declines this year.

The report, released earlier this week, said the social media platform has permitted a toxic online culture that allows pervasive abuse of women.

While reports from Amnesty International are not regular reading on Wall Street, the Citron Research newsletter is. On Thursday, Citron editor Andrew Left cited the report and called Twitter the “Harvey Weinstein” of social media.

Shares of Twitter Inc. plunged 13 percent in midday trading.

Amnesty and data firm Element AI scoured through 288,000 tweets sent to almost 800 women politicians and journalists in 2017. Element calculated that 1.1 million abusive or problematic tweets were sent to those women last year, or, Amnesty said, about one every 30 seconds.

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Researchers found that women of color were much more likely, 34 percent, to be the subject of problematic tweets.

Vijaya Gadde, the legal, policy, trust and safety global lead at Twitter, said in a response to Amnesty that the company desires a healthy and transparent discourse.

“Twitter’s health is measured by how we help encourage more healthy debate, conversations, and critical thinking,” Gadde said. “Conversely, abuse, malicious automation, and manipulation detract from the health of Twitter. We are committed to holding ourselves publicly accountable towards progress in this regard.”

After weeks of castigation at Facebook over now well-known privacy issues, investors have grown leery of issues that have the potential to become a public nightmare for social media platforms.

Left, of Citron Research, lowered his expectations on company shares, anticipating a difficult path for Twitter in light of heightened attention to the problems in social media.

Left said that said Twitter has become “uninvestable” and that advertisers will soon have to reconsider their sponsorships on the platform.

Twitter, like Facebook, has also come under fire for its role in false and divisive messages spreading on its platform. Both social media companies on Thursday said they suspended or shut down accounts suspected of spreading false information about the Bangladesh opposition days before the national elections.

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