Twitter stock falls as company tackles fake accounts

Twitter shares fell sharply on Monday following a report that the social media company has accelerated its efforts to eliminate fake accounts.

The Washington Post reported that Twitter suspended more than 70 million accounts in May and June, more than doubling the company’s rate of account suspensions since October. The report pressured Twitter’s stock, which fell as much as 9.8% during Monday trading, as investors grew concerned that an increase in suspended accounts would hurt user activity on the platform.

But Twitter Chief Financial Officer Ned Segal said most of the accounts that Twitter removes are not included in the company’s tally of active users, since spam accounts are typically inactive for at least 30 days.

“If we removed 70M accounts from our reported metrics, you would hear directly from us,” Segal wrote on Twitter. “This [Washington Post] article reflects us getting better at improving the health of the service. Look forward to talking more on our earnings call July 27!”

Twitter shares pared their losses after Segal’s response. The stock closed more than 5% lower.

Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms are cracking down on spam accounts amid scrutiny over “fake news” and Russia’s attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
TWTR TWITTER, INC. 62.45 -2.92 -4.47%

Last month, Twitter said its algorithms identified more than 9.9 million accounts per week in May that could be spam or automated, roughly triple the amount reported in September. The company is also checking accounts during the sign-up process, preventing “bots” from opening new accounts on Twitter.

In its first-quarter letter to shareholders, Twitter said its monthly active users may continue to be negatively impacted by its quality-control efforts. Accounts identified as spam are excluded from active user numbers reported to shareholders.