The Twitter Inc. logo displayed outside the company's headquarters in San Francisco | David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
Twitter Inc.'s headquarters in San Francisco | David Paul Morris | Bloomberg
Text Size:

Something doesn’t smell right at Twitter Inc.

The company on Thursday blamed a lower-than-expected rate of third-quarter revenue growth, and a disappointing sales forecast for the current quarter, in part on “bugs” in one of Twitter’s types of advertisements and to errors Twitter made to use people’s personal information in ways they didn’t expect.

In total, Twitter said these issues reduced the company’s growth rate by at least 3 percentage points in the third quarter. That’s a significant hit to what was a reported growth rate of 9%. Twitter said the same issues might continue to be a drag on advertising sales into next year.

Twitter’s explanation for this revenue problem was insufficient and also an acknowledgment that the company has been breaking users’ trust. That should invite hard questions from regulators. It also hurts Twitter’s credibility, which remains fragile after a long stretch of business underperformance and instability. Twitter’s shares were falling about 19% in early trading on Thursday.

Essentially, Twitter said it took a financial hit because it stopped abusing people’s personal privacy choices. The company disclosed in August that it had been mistakenly ignoring people who said they didn’t want some information about them shared with Twitter’s advertisers or other partners.

That meant, for example, that Twitter might have been allowing a mobile game company to target ads at Twitter users based on whether they were using a recent model of iPhone — even if people explicitly told Twitter they didn’t want marketers to have access to this type of information.

We are deeply grateful to our readers & viewers for their time, trust and subscriptions.

Quality journalism is expensive and needs readers to pay for it. Your support will define our work and ThePrint’s future.


The company has not said before Thursday that fixing its privacy mistakes would hurt the company’s revenue. Investors should be pushing Twitter harder to answer why management didn’t disclose a possible ad sales dent until now. And what does it say about the quality of Twitter’s advertising — and the internet surveillance economy in general — that ending privacy-violating settings dented Twitter’s ad sales?

Twitter’s recovery is mostly real. The company remains nicely profitable, which wasn’t true for a long time. It continues to both hold onto and add users. But when the company minimizes mistakes it made that breach its promises to users and hurt its business, it’s easy to get flashbacks to the bad old days. The company needs to do better than this. – Bloomberg 

Also read: Google accused of creating spy tool to crush dissent among its workers


Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

News media is in a crisis & only you can fix it

You are reading this because you value good, intelligent and objective journalism. We thank you for your time and your trust.

You also know that the news media is facing an unprecedented crisis. It is likely that you are also hearing of the brutal layoffs and pay-cuts hitting the industry. There are many reasons why the media’s economics is broken. But a big one is that good people are not yet paying enough for good journalism.

We have a newsroom filled with talented young reporters. We also have the country’s most robust editing and fact-checking team, finest news photographers and video professionals. We are building India’s most ambitious and energetic news platform. And we aren’t even three yet.

At ThePrint, we invest in quality journalists. We pay them fairly and on time even in this difficult period. As you may have noticed, we do not flinch from spending whatever it takes to make sure our reporters reach where the story is. Our stellar coronavirus coverage is a good example. You can check some of it here.

This comes with a sizable cost. For us to continue bringing quality journalism, we need readers like you to pay for it. Because the advertising market is broken too.

If you think we deserve your support, do join us in this endeavour to strengthen fair, free, courageous, and questioning journalism, please click on the link below. Your support will define our journalism, and ThePrint’s future. It will take just a few seconds of your time.

Support Our Journalism

Share Your Views


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here