Twitter has had a big problem combating fake accounts, with the company admitting that some 50,000 Russian bots tried to influence the 2016 election that Donald Trump won.
But now, amid reports confirmed by Twitter that it is trying to purge trolls, bots, and impersonators, investors are worried that the effort may hurt the company’s financials. Twitter’s shares fell nearly 9% in midday trading Monday, erasing $3.1 billion in market value.
The stock’s fall comes after Twitter confirmed a Washington Post
report that it had suspended nearly 70 million accounts between May and June—or as much as one million per day. The Post also cited sources saying that the suspensions could hit the social media platform’s monthly active user figure in the second quarter of the year
, a key metric of performance.
CFRA analyst Scott Kessler downgraded shares of Twitter to “Sell” from “Hold” following the news.
“Twitter had 336 million monthly active users in the first quarter. We wonder about potential negative impacts on pricing and revenue,” Kessler wrote about the reports of a Twitter purge.
Twitter shares, though, have gained 83% this year after the company shook off worries about its viability. In April, it posted record profits for the second consecutive quarter, with investors wondering if the gains had something to do with Trump’s frenetic use of the social media service.
Despite the financial figures however, the fake accounts issue has dogged Twitter. Not only has Twitter had to try to eliminate Russian bots, scammers have tried to steal cryptocurrency from fellow users by assuming the identity of important users. For example, founder of major cryptocurrency Ethereum, Vitalik Buterin, called for help
from Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to eliminate scam bots on Monday.