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Twitter’s growth looks way better now that it’s hiding monthly usage numbers

Twitter’s growth looks way better now that it’s hiding monthly usage numbers

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Twitter added 5 million daily users last quarter, bringing the company to 139 million in total. That’s the highest the number has been since Twitter started reporting daily usage statistics earlier this year, and it represents the highest annual growth in almost two years.

While it’s a great sign for Twitter — suggesting that recent changes to the platform have been successful at retaining and attracting users — that’s also very much the narrative Twitter wants us to take away. As of this quarter, Twitter is no longer disclosing how many monthly users it has, and that number spent a full year in decline, only growing again in the first few months of this year.

Twitter doesn’t want to be compared to social apps with a lot more daily users

Twitter said that daily usage numbers are “the best ways to measure our success.” But it’s also being frustratingly obtuse in its presentation, saying that its own daily usage numbers “are not comparable” to other companies’ daily usage numbers, because other companies count differently. Twitter says the difference is that it only counts daily users who see ads, whereas other companies count users who don’t.

What that means is, Twitter doesn’t want its 139 million daily users compared against Snapchat’s 203 million daily users, Instagram Stories’ 500 million daily users, Facebook Stories’ 500 million daily users, or Facebook’s 1.59 billion daily users. Twitter isn’t necessarily competing directly against any of those services, but in comparison, it shows just how much smaller Twitter’s daily usage really is.

Twitter has spent much of the last year battling declining usage and cutting bots, spam, and other bad actors from its platform. That clean up resulted in a lot of the decreased usage as bots were removed, but Twitter hoped that by improving its platform overall, it would lead to a better experience and more users in the end. Since it’s changed usage metrics, it’s hard to say how much that’s really played out. But, at least by the count Twitter now shows us, usage is growing again.

Bots and other fake accounts could still represent nearly five percent of Twitter’s daily user count, the company warned. So its job cleaning out the platform of spammers isn’t entirely done. But Twitter suggests that its job has been working, saying that reports of spam and suspicious behavior have dropped by 18 percent.