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Twitter reports a million fewer users as a result of ongoing crackdown on bots

Twitter reports a million fewer users as a result of ongoing crackdown on bots


They were never ‘real’ users, but they were counted

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Twitter’s monthly user count dropped by 1 million over the past few months and could drop by millions more as the company cracks down on bots and spam. Its monthly user count — a metric often used to discuss the company’s growth and success — fell from 336 million last quarter to 335 million this quarter. And Twitter says it could lose “mid-single-digit millions” more over the next few months.

The numbers were reported this morning in Twitter’s second quarter earnings for 2018. Though Twitter didn’t necessarily lose many “real” users in its account purge, the company hurts its outlook among investors because, in past quarters, it had counted those fake accounts as real, inflating the size of its apparent business.

Twitter’s daily user count is ‘well below’ half its monthly user count

Getting rid of the spammy accounts is by all means a good thing. It means that Twitter has a better count of how many users it actually has, and it means a better experience for users on the platform. Not to mention, it means fewer potentially bad headlines from the trouble those accounts caused.

But for the time being, at least, it’s a bad look. It means Twitter had been counting fake accounts as real ones, making investors believe the company had more real users and was growing faster than it really was. The company’s stock immediately tumbled in pre-market trading, falling around 16 percent.

Twitter says it’s now able to remove accounts at twice the speed it could last year thanks to technology improvements. The company claims that isn’t the only thing contributing to its user numbers dropping, but it’s hard to imagine it isn’t the biggest factor, given that Twitter supposedly wiped out tens of millions of accounts.

Twitter highlights its growth in daily users to make up for the fall in monthly users, saying they’re up 11 percent year over year. But that’s a drop by one percentage point of growth from this time last year; and while Twitter still won’t give the exact number of daily users, it says they represent “well below” half of its monthly user count.

On a brighter note for the company, Twitter continued to make money, turning a profit for the third quarter in a row — and the third time ever.