Twitter's toxic avenging takes a toll on overall user counts

Twitter share price tumbles after it loses 1m users in three months

Monthly users fell to 335 million in the second quarter and came in well below Wall Street's expectations of 339 million. The company's reported revenue of $711 million, up 25% from a year ago. But Chief Financial Office Ned Segal told analysts that the event, which carried into the third quarter, raked in less revenue in its second two weeks.

Twitter shares plunged up to 20% in premarket trading after the social media platform said monthly active users had fallen by one million. Twitter also earns revenue from licensing data.

Social media researchers for years had complained about the prevalence of bots - automated accounts managed by people seeking to shape online discourse - on Twitter, accusing the company of playing down the problem and not doing enough to curtail their influence.

Twitter said it has been purging offending accounts, which led to many users seeing drops in their official follower counts, but it said a lot of them were inactive already and wouldn't impact monthly user numbers.

Both Twitter and Facebook moved to crack down on bots and fake accounts after learning of efforts to manipulate the social platforms during the 2016 United States presidential election. Twitter said in a blog post it had identified an issue where some accounts were not auto-suggested in search even when people were searching by specific name.

"We are confident that this is in the best long-term interest of the platform and will enable long-term growth as we improve the health of the public conversation on Twitter" and reallocate resources, including those used to prepare for the data privacy changes in Europe, Twitter said in a note to shareholders accompanying the earnings release.

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Profit was $100 million, with a $42 million boost due to a tax benefit. It doesn't disclose DAUs but said those remain well below 50% of monthly active users. Its per-share earnings of 17 cents met consensus estimates.

Sales, at $711m, were up 24% compared with previous year and above analysts estimates. "Last year's Q2 created an incredible buying opportunity in the stock".

Twitter has said increased video programming, including news shows and live sports, and investing in technology that automatically surfaces interesting content with limited user intervention should make the service appealing to first-timers.

The drop in Twitter's share price comes a day after Facebook's shares fell 19% when it revealed it had lost 3 million users in Europe since the Cambridge Analytica data breach scandal and the introduction of strict European Union privacy laws.

Twitter also saw usage fall after saying it would not subsidize users who accessed its application through text messages without paying messaging fees to wireless carriers.

Twitter said that when it suspends accounts, many of them have already been excluded from its MAU or DAU tallies, "either because the accounts were already inactive for more than one month at the time of suspension, or because they were caught at signup and were never included in MAU or DAU".

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