Twitter 'starts shedding users' as growth falters

Twitter’s own paperwork appears to show its userbase is shrinking

Twitter's growth cooled down rapidly in its latest quarter, as its financial figures showed it lost users and saw revenue grow at a far slower rate than previously.

The social network attracted three million new monthly active users (MAU) to its platform in the second quarter of 2016, bringing its total MAU count to 313 million.

It claimed this represented three per cent growth year-on-year from the same quarter of 2015, a climb that would put the 2015 figure at 303.8 million, according to IT Pro's calculations.

How Twitter reported its MAU figure for Q2 2016

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However, Twitter's own financial results for Q2 2015 record the MAU figure as 316 million, meaning its latest MAU count represents a one per cent decrease, as calculated by IT Pro.

How Twitter reported its MAU figure for Q2 2015

IT Pro has contacted Twitter about this inconsistency, but had not received a response at the time of publication. However, a statement from CEO Jack Dorsey on Twitter's latest quarter read: "We've made a lot of progress on our priorities this quarter. We are confident in our product roadmap, and we are seeing the direct benefit of our recent product changes in increased engagement and usage.

"We remain focused on improving our service to make it fast, simple and easy to use, like the ability to watch live-streaming video events unfold and the commentary around them."

Twitter's latest MAU figure was three million higher than the 310 million it recorded in the first quarter of 2016, but that means it has seen two consecutive quarters in which its total userbase has not hit the 316 million peak it recorded a year ago.

Users are essential to Twitter's ability to make money from advertisers, and the apparent inaccuracy on its own financial release means it has officially recorded a growth in user numbers, rather than the decline IT Pro's investigations suggest.

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The company's quarterly revenue grew 20 per cent year-on-year to hit $602 million, but the rate of growth is declining, after the social network recorded 61 per cent year-on-year growth in last year's corresponding quarter to hit $502 million in revenue.

"Our Q2 results show good progress in monetization, but we are not satisfied with our growth in audience," Dorsey, then the interim CEO, said at the time.

This year, Twitter's rate of revenue growth is lower, and it appears to have fewer users than it did when Dorsey said he was "not satisfied" with audience growth.

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Advertising revenue rose 18 per cent to $535 million in Twitter's latest quarter, compared to 63 per cent growth to $452 million in Q2 2015.

Without better user growth, it will be harder for Twitter to attract advertisers to its platform.

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This is a developing story that IT Pro will update as it learns more.

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