Twitter shares plunged as much as 12 percent to $45.17 in the first trading session after it booted Trump from the platform on Friday, saying his account posed a “risk of further incitement of violence” after his supporters stormed the US Capitol on Wednesday.
The stock pared the losses and was down 6.6 percent at $48.07 as of 3:20 p.m. Twitter’s move against the outgoing president — whose account had more than 88 million followers — was the first permanent suspension for a head of state, and it’s likely to spark furious debate about the role tech companies play in regulating speech.
It may also hurt Twitter’s user base as Trump supporters and right-wing activists pledged to boycott the company’s blockbuster decision while Republican lawmakers pushed for regulatory changes.
“A lot of this is fueled by emotion,” CFRA Research analyst John Freeman told The Post.
The drop in Twitter’s share price was driven by “people who want to dump Twitter at any price because they just don’t like it anymore,” he added. “It’s more people not wanting it in their portfolios for non-rational, non-economic reasons.”
Twitter’s move to sanction Trump came a day after Facebook banned the president from posting to his page with 35 million followers for the final two weeks of his term.
Chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg told a Reuters conference Monday that Facebook wasn’t planning to lift the ban on Trump’s accounts, adding that he could appeal the decision through the company’s oversight board.
Meanwhile, fledgling Twitter rival Parler slapped Amazon’s cloud-computing business with a lawsuit after it booted the controversial social network from its servers, forcing it to go dark. Amazon shares slid as much as 2 percent Monday.
Both Twitter and Facebook — whose stock dropped as much as 4.3 percent — cited the risk that Trump’s posts could incite further violence. Twitter specifically said were plans in the works for more armed protests, “including a proposed secondary attack on the US Capitol and state capitol buildings on January 17, 2021.”
But Republicans who contend Twitter went too far have called for for reforms to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which shields social networks from legal liability for their users’ posts.
Democratic lawmakers poised to take control of Congress this month are also reportedly looking to crack down on Twitter and other social-media giants over their roles in the deadly Capitol riots.
“The danger [for Big Tech] is that maybe those two sides meet in the middle and this is the one thing they can agree on,” Freeman said.
The use of social media to organize such violent uprisings could also lead Twitter and other firms to ramp up their content moderation efforts — which could come with increased costs.
“Incremental moderation may be welcome but it’s not cheap and could benefit Facebook that already [employs] a moderation army [around six times] larger than Twitter’s workforce,” Bernstein analysts wrote in a research note. ✪