As Twitter cleans up spam, monthly users drop, but daily engagement increases

A rallying cry from users to clean up social networks hasn’t been without consequences — on Friday, July 27, Twitter reported a loss of about a million monthly active users in the U.S., just days after Facebook posted the slowest user growth in several years. Monthly active users in the U.S. dropped from 69 million to 68 million, while international users remained steady at 267 million.

Twitter says the drop in user count is largely attributed to repurposing resources designed to encourage growth to instead enhance platform health and implement practices from the new General Data Protection Regulation laws in Europe. The company says that creating a healthier social network has short-term consequences but predicts the changes will contribute to long-term growth. Following a major rule overhaul last year, Twitter is continuing to respond to user criticism on how the platform handles abuse and spam.

In its report, Twitter says the network is now removing twice as many accounts for violating spam policies as it did last year, identifying 9 million potential spam accounts every week and preventing 50,000 fewer spam sign-ups each day. That results in 8,000 fewer average spam reports on the network every day.

Many of the spam numbers are caught at sign-up and never included in the company’s user count, however, so the drive to curb spam isn’t responsible for that one million user drop. Twitter instead says that moving staff to focus on network health and the GDPR laws is responsible for a larger chunk of that decline than removing spam accounts.

While the monthly numbers dropped for the second quarter, the daily active user count illustrates an increase in engagement for the users already on the microblogging network. The year-over-year growth for daily active users was 11 percent over the previous year, slightly higher than the 10 percent from the first quarter. Twitter says that growth was from product improvements and marketing, as well as organic growth. Twitter lists the expanded Happening Now section, which encompasses breaking news and sports Tweets, as one of the tools promoting increased engagement. Video will also continue to be a focus for the network, the report says.

Twitter expects another decline in monthly active users for the next quarter, but the company is banking on the changes designed to prevent spam and abuse creating a stronger network in the long run. While the user count dropped from numbers earlier this year, the count is 9 million users higher than the same time last year. Over time, the network will move back to the investment in product and engineering to spark growth and that the reallocation for GDPR and platform health that caused the user decline is temporary.

Despite the drop in user count, Twitter posted a healthy 24 percent year-over-year revenue growth and even beat Wall Street predictions by a penny. The user numbers, however, has investors worried about the future of the platform, causing Twitter shares to fall after the company shared the second-quarter results.

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