Five ways media discredits Twitter through opinionated coverage | The Knife Media




(The Knife Media) The news is essentially that Twitter released its Q3 report, announced it would no longer sell ads to two Russian networks, and said it had used an incorrect calculation to estimate its monthly user base. It’s also a fact that the company is not currently profitable.


Beyond that, the media coverage included judgments and implications that the platform is “struggling” and entangled in “controversy,” or is untrustworthy. These opinions – presented as facts – could damage the public’s view of the company or the service it provides. Although investors may interpret some of Twitter’s report as unfavorable for the company’s outlook, the facts can stand for themselves without the media inserting its own opinion.


Here are the top 5 examples of opinionated reporting that may discredit Twitter:


5. “Twitter has been battling the perception that it’s a niche media platform…” (Bloomberg)


  • Saying the platform is viewed as part of a “niche” implies it’s not widely popular. Twitter has approximately 330 million monthly users. How many consumers would a company need in order to no longer have “niche” status?


4. “The issue [of miscalculating the number of active users] may add to credibility problems for Twitter, which has been under pressure to weed out fake accounts and bots.” (CBS News)


  • A study cited by CBS shows up to 15 percent of accounts on Twitter are “bots” or fake accounts. That is data. But suggesting the business has “credibility problems” is opinion that may discredit the company overall. It’s possible that investors or the public will view Twitter as less credible because of the miscalculation of its user base, but the statement above assumes that it already is viewed as not credible. (CBS doesn’t cite any specific information,such as investor sentiment about the company, as evidence of this credibility problem.)


3. “For years, Twitter has struggled to impress Wall Street investors with its lackluster user numbers. But it turns out Twitter’s numbers were even worse than had been reported.” The miscalculation was a “snafu” (CNN)


  • Calling Twitter’s numbers “lackluster” and the miscalculation a “snafu” (which stands for “situation normal: all f**ked up” and refers to an erroneous or confusing situation) paints an unflattering picture of the company. Twitter did make a error, but the language here could sensationalize it and judge the user numbers based on a subjective interpretation. More neutral reporting might just present the numbers and allow readers to draw their own conclusions.


2. “The disclosure [that Twitter miscalculated the number of active users] could nonetheless do further harm to Twitter’s reputation as the company contends with scrutiny over its role in Russia’s efforts to meddle in the presidential election…” (The New York Times)


  • Referring Twitter’s “role” in the meddling without specifying what that role was could imply that the company actively and knowingly aided the alleged Russian efforts. Yet Twitter says it unknowingly sold ads to Russian groups that were later accused of trying to influence the election, and has taken steps to correct the actions. (See Context for more.)


1. “Twitter Inc. beat sales estimates and added more monthly users, indicating signs of life at the social network that has struggled to attract new consumers and advertisers.” (Bloomberg)


  • Ostensibly, this sentence reports positive developments at Twitter, but it also introduces criticism of it at the same time. This could be a “Trojan horse” of sorts. Saying the report indicates “signs of life” assumes that previously Twitter was “dead.” That’s not a very flattering description of the state of a company.  


Written by Leah Mottishaw and Julia Berry López


Edited by Julia Berry López and Jens Erik Gould


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