Twitter trolls are now abusing the company's bottom line

With Twitter on the block, potential suitors are put off by racist and sexist harassment on the social media site

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published October 19, 2016 8:13PM (EDT)

  (<a href=''>GenNealPhoto</a> via <a href=''>iStock</a>)
(GenNealPhoto via iStock)

It looks like Twitter’s notorious troll problem is hurting its bottom line.

Although Twitter has been trying — thus far unsuccessfully — to get acquired by fellow tech and media industry giants like Disney, Google, and Salesforce, reports indicate that Twitter’s reputation as a haven for sexism, racism, and harassment has made these companies hesitate to purchase the social media site. “Walt Disney Co. decided not to pursue a bid for Twitter Inc. partly out of concern that bullying and other uncivil forms of communication on the social media site might soil the company’s wholesome family image, according to people familiar with management’s thinking,” explained Alex Sherman, Chris Palmeri and Sarah Frier of Bloomberg.

CNBC’s “Mad Money” host Jim Cramer told a similar story about Salesforce. "What's happened is, a lot of the bidders are looking at people with lots of followers and seeing the hatred," Cramer told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" based in part on a recent conversation he had with Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff. "I know that the haters reduce the value of the company ... I know that Salesforce was very concerned about this notion." Indeed, Twitter’s toxic reputation even made headlines today, with The New York Times reporting a surge in anti-Semitic tweets related to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

Despite its initial reluctance to crack down on hate speech, Twitter has recently taken steps to protect its users from harassment and trolling. The most notable of these was changing its blocking feature so that users could render individuals whose tweets they found offensive completely invisible and banning notorious provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos.

Of course, trolling isn’t the only issue that tarnishes Twitter’s brand. The company has lost over $2 billion in the past five years, though it is still valued at $12.2 billion. This makes it an inherently risky acquisition proposition, regardless of the extenuating circumstances. But it's clear the social media site’s reputation as a home for trolling seems to be putting the nail in its financial coffin.


By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a professional writer whose work has appeared in multiple national media outlets since 2012 and exclusively at Salon since 2016. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012, was a guest on Fox Business in 2019, repeatedly warned of Trump's impending refusal to concede during the 2020 election, spoke at the Commonwealth Club of California in 2021, was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022 and appeared on NPR in 2023. His diverse interests are reflected in his interviews including: President Jimmy Carter (1977-1981), Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak (1999-2001), animal scientist and autism activist Temple Grandin, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (1997-2001), director Jason Reitman ("The Front Runner"), inventor Ernő Rubik, comedian Bill Burr ("F Is for Family"), novelist James Patterson ("The President's Daughter"), epidemiologist Monica Gandhi, theoretical cosmologist Janna Levin, voice actor Rob Paulsen ("Animaniacs"), mRNA vaccine pioneer Katalin Karikó, philosopher of science Vinciane Despret, actor George Takei ("Star Trek"), climatologist Michael E. Mann, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (2013-present), dog cognition researcher Alexandra Horowitz, Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson (2012, 2016), comedian and writer Larry Charles ("Seinfeld"), seismologist John Vidale, Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman (2000), Ambassador Michael McFaul (2012-2014), economist Richard Wolff, director Kevin Greutert ("Saw VI"), model Liskula Cohen, actor Rodger Bumpass ("SpongeBob Squarepants"), Senator John Hickenlooper (2021-present), Senator Martin Heinrich (2013-present), Egyptologist Richard Parkinson, Rep. Eric Swalwell (2013-present), Fox News host Tucker Carlson, actor R. J. Mitte ("Breaking Bad"), theoretical physicist Avi Loeb, biologist and genomics entrepreneur William Haseltine, comedian David Cross ("Scary Movie 2"), linguistics consultant Paul Frommer ("Avatar"), Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (2007-2015), computer engineer and Internet co-inventor Leonard Kleinrock and right-wing insurrectionist Roger Stone.

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