Twitter stock surges in public debut

Shares of the popular social media service Twitter surged Thursday in its public debut on the stock market.

The stock, using the symbol "TWTR," opened at $45.10 per share, well above its initial public offering (IPO) price of $26.

The price values the company at more than $31 billion, despite the fact that it has never turned a profit.

Twitter, which was founded in 2006, now has more than 215 million active users worldwide. 

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Nearly every member of Congress, Cabinet official and numerous foreign leaders use the service to send and read 140-character messages. 

Twitter's debut on the stock market is the most closely watched since Facebook's initial public offering last year. Facebook's IPO was marred by technical glitches, and its stock sunk quickly but has since recovered. 

Unlike other Internet giants such as Google and Facebook, Twitter has kept a low profile in Washington. But that might change now that it is a public company and accountable to shareholders. It registered its first lobbyist, Will Carty, this year. 

In documents filed with the Security and Exchange Commission ahead of the IPO, Twitter warned that spam, security breaches and privacy concerns all pose threats to its business. It also said it could have to change its business practices in response to data protection laws or other new regulations. 

Twitter is required to follow a 2011 Federal Trade Commission order related to improper security practices. 

"We expect to continue to be the subject of regulatory inquiries, investigations and audits in the future by the FTC and other regulators around the world," Twitter wrote.

The company also said it depends on expanding mobile Internet use and warned it faces competition from Facebook (including Instagram), Google, Microsoft, LinkedIn and Yahoo.

Because Twitter does not have access to as much personal information on its users as Facebook and Google, it might face less scrutiny from lawmakers and regulators over privacy concerns.