Lawyers claim the social network was engaging in a “shell game.”
Twitter has filed a settlement proposal with a federal court to end a lawsuit alleging that it misled investors in 2014. The settlement is just shy of a billion dollars, and Twitter will pay it out with “cash on hand.” According to the company, the agreement does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing.
On Monday, Twitter issued a press release stating that it would settle a 2016 class-action lawsuit for $809.6 million. The suit alleged that the company had misled investors in 2014 about its growth and monthly active user (MAU) count in violation of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
The complaint contends that Twitter provided “unrealistic” growth projections during “Analyst Day” in 2014. The company claimed that it expected to double the MAU count to 550 million by 2018 and that revenues would climb to $4.6 billion in the same time frame. Twitter then proceeded to play a “shell game” with investors by changing its MAU metrics and padding growth numbers through “low-quality growth” metrics.
Specifically, Twitter stopped using its “timeline views.” Timeline views made it easy for investors to track MAU growth. In 2016, Vanity Fair said the company also allegedly started inflating user counts by sending out automated emails to long inactive accounts to get them to log in so it could count them in its MAU metrics.
Twitter denies any wrongdoing and wishes to settle the case outside of court. Its proposed $800 million settlement would be recorded in its Q3 2021 financial statement, with payments made in Q4 using “cash on hand.” The proposal, however, must still be approved by the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.