Facebook users may flee the company’s social media platform because of rising negative sentiment, according to one top Wall Street firm.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg commented Wednesday on the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, posting a statement online and giving interviews to several news organizations. The social media executive said he would be open to more regulation.
“I actually am not sure we shouldn’t be regulated. I think in general technology is an increasingly important trend in the world, and I actually think the question is more ‘What is the right regulation?’ rather than ‘Yes or no, should it be regulated?'” he told CNN.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch reduced its price target for Facebook shares to $230 from $265, saying Zuckerberg’s statements will not fix the negative sentiment against the company.
“We think Zuckerberg addressed the issues and a long recovery process can start. That said, there was nothing that could be said to appease the most vocal critics, mainstream backlash will persist as Cambridge Analytica remains in the headlines, and we would expect some impact to near-term platform usage,” analyst Justin Post wrote in a note to clients Wednesday.
Facebook shares fell 2.7 percent Thursday. The social media giant’s stock declined 8.5 percent over the previous three trading sessions, wiping out nearly $45 billion in stock value.
Post reaffirmed his buy rating for the company, but said social media outrage and the negative sentiment may hurt the company’s financial results this year.
“With ‘#deletefacebook’ hashtags trending and the onslaught of negative Facebook headlines (Uber had a similar situation last year), we have to consider the potential that some portion of users reduce usage of the platform,” he wrote. “In terms of ad targeting, we see medium-term risk that additional user permission management and reduced consent … and as a result, ad pricing growth could trail our estimates.”