Date
19 May 2019
Shares in Twitter rose 13 percent on Tuesday after it reported quarterly revenue above analyst estimates. Photo: Bloomberg
Shares in Twitter rose 13 percent on Tuesday after it reported quarterly revenue above analyst estimates. Photo: Bloomberg

Trump complained to Twitter CEO about lost followers: report

US President Donald Trump met with Twitter Inc’s chief executive Jack Dorsey on Tuesday and spent a significant time questioning him about why he has lost some Twitter followers, Reuters reports, citing a person briefed on the matter.

The meeting, which was organized by the White House last week, came hours after Trump again attacked the social media company over his claims it is biased against conservatives.

“Great meeting this afternoon at the @WhiteHouse with @Jack from @Twitter. Lots of subjects discussed regarding their platform, and the world of social media in general. Look forward to keeping an open dialogue!” Trump tweeted, posting a photo of Dorsey and others with him in the Oval Office.

Earlier on Tuesday, Trump suggested Twitter was biased against him without providing evidence. He wrote on Twitter that the company does not “treat me well as a Republican. Very discriminatory.”

Twitter said in a statement Dorsey had a “constructive meeting with the president of the United States today at the president’s invitation. They discussed Twitter’s commitment to protecting the health of the public conversation ahead of the 2020 US elections and efforts underway to respond to the opioid crisis”.

Unlike other major US tech company executives, Dorsey had not previously met with Trump.

He was not invited to a December 2016 meeting with president-elect Trump that featured other major tech companies. Reuters reported in 2016 Trump had been angry with Twitter because it had rejected an advertising deal with his campaign.

Trump has been upset about losing followers.

In October, Trump wrote that “Twitter has removed many people from my account and, more importantly, they have seemingly done something that makes it much harder to join – they have stifled growth to a point where it is obvious to all. A few weeks ago it was a Rocket Ship, now it is a Blimp! Total Bias?”

Any reduction is likely the result of Twitter’s recent moves to remove millions of suspicious accounts after it and other social media services were used in misinformation campaigns attempting to influence voters in the 2016 US presidential race and other elections, Reuters reported in October.

Shares in Twitter jumped 13 percent on Tuesday after it reported quarterly revenue above analyst estimates, which executives said was the result of weeding out spam and abusive posts and targeting ads better.

Trump lost 204,000, or 0.4 percent, of his 53.4 million followers in July when Twitter started its purge of suspicious accounts, according to social media data firm Keyhole.

Trump has one of the most-followed accounts on Twitter. But the president and Republicans in Congress have repeatedly criticized the company and its social media competitors for what they have called bias against conservatives, something Twitter denies.

New metric

Twitter said new ad formats, partnerships with content providers like the US National Basketball Association, and efforts to patrol abusive content are helping the company better compete for advertising dollars.

It said monthly active users (MAU) rose 9 million to 330 million from the previous quarter, much better than Wall Street’s average estimate that it would lose 2.2 million users, according to IBES data from Refinitiv. Still, MAUs were down 6 million from a year earlier.

It was Twitter’s last quarter of disclosing MAUs.

From now on it will only provide “monetizable” daily active users (mDAUs), created to measure people exposed to advertising and exclude those who access Twitter via text messages or aggregating sites like TweetDeck.

For the first quarter, Twitter said mDAUs rose to 134 million, up 12 percent from a year ago.

Analysts were encouraged by signs the company had found ways to sustainably grow users and revenue, but said the new way of measuring users could make comparisons with rivals like Facebook more difficult.

“People are not impressed with a made-up metric and their reluctance to give us actual users,” said analyst Michael Pachter at Wedbush Securities. “I don’t think the stock can get out of its own way until they come clean and report the same metrics everyone else does.”

For the first quarter, Twitter’s revenue rose 18 percent to US$787 million from the year-ago quarter, topping analyst estimates of US$776.1 million.

But Twitter also forecast revenue for the second quarter largely below analyst estimates, and said that it would continue to spend heavily on cleaning up Twitter as well as new ad products.

Ad sales jumped 18 percent to US$679 million. In the United States, ad revenue rose by 26 percent.

Total operating expense including cost of revenue rose by 18 percent from the first quarter a year ago. The company reiterated that operating expenses would grow about 20 percent in 2019.

Twitter reported quarterly profit of US$191 million, or 25 cents a share, compared with US$61 million, or 8 cents per share, a year earlier. Excluding a US$124.4 million tax benefit, the company earned 9 cents per share.

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CG

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