Twitter profited from Wall Street doubts about Facebook’s new news strategy Friday, with investors sending the stock up 4.4% to a closing price of $25.41. That’s the highest Twitter’s stock has been since December of 2015.
Twitter’s stock price rose just as Facebook lost 4.5% following CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement late Thursday that the company would tweak its news feed in 2018 to feature fewer posts shared by publishers, and more content from friends and family.
“I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions,” Zuckerberg wrote in a post on his Facebook profile.
“The first changes you’ll see will be in News Feed, where you can expect to see more from your friends, family and groups,” he wrote. “As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media.”
These changes shouldn’t have come as a total surprise to investors. Zuckerberg has for some time talked about changing Facebook to be more about communities, and the company struggled throughout 2017 with the backlash over its role in the 2016 presidential election as well as hateful and abusive posts on its platform.
In the company’s Q3 2017 earnings call, Zuckerberg already alluded to the fact that addressing these issues could depress profits in the near term. “We’re investing so much in security that it will impact our profitability,” he said at the time. “Protecting our community is more important than maximizing our profits.”
Twitter has had its own challenges with hate and abuse. Originally designed as a free-speech platform, Twitter frequently struggled with finding the right responses to well-publicized instances of hate and harassment. However, Twitter did lay out a multi-step plan against hate speech in late 2017, and since banned a number of hate groups and their members.
All of that apparently went over well with investors, who helped the company’s share price climb from around $17 in October to around $24 in early January.
Now, Twitter is additionally benefitting from the notion that Facebook is closing the door on news in its newsfeed — especially since Twitter has spent much of the past two years to reinvent itself as the place where users go to “see what’s happening.”