Report: Internal Documents Show Twitter Is Losing Its Most Active Users

Report: Internal Documents Show Twitter Is Losing Its Most Active Users

Twitter users

Tesla CEO Elon Musk introduces the Cybertruck, Nov. 21, 2019. (AP /Ringo H.W. Chiu) / Twitter

Five days before Tesla founder and billionaire Elon Musk offered to buy Twitter in April 2022, he questioned the solidity of the social media giant in a tweet of his own.

“Is Twitter dying?” Musk asked his 81 million followers, with an accompanying list of top Twitter accounts. “Most of these ‘top’ accounts tweet rarely and post very little content” Musk wrote. Barack Obama topped the list with 131 million followers and Musk himself ranked No. 8.

If Musk had been accused of trying to move Twitter’s market price, it wouldn’t be the first time. For example, the price of Bitcoin jumped by 10 percent in 24 hours in June 2021 after Musk — a big crypto fan — announced that his electric vehicle company could resume accepting Bitcoin transactions.

On April 14, Musk offered to buy Twitter at $54.20 per share, valuing the company at about $44 billion. After months of accusations, public acrimony and a stalemate in early October, bankers and lawyers are preparing paperwork for the $44 billion buyout. The deal must be completed by a court-issued deadline of Oct. 28 or the case will go to trial, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg.  

So is Twitter dying?

According to an internal Twitter research document seen by Reuters, Twitter investigated “disturbing” trends among users to try and understand a decline in its most active users.

“Heavy tweeters” — those who log on to Twitter six or seven days a week and tweet three-to-four times a week — account for less than 10 percent of monthly overall users. However, they generate 90 percent of all tweets and half of global Twitter revenue, Reuters reported.

Heavy tweeters have been in “absolute decline” since the pandemic began, a Twitter researcher wrote in an internal document titled “Where did the Tweeters Go?”

Also on the decline on Twitter is interest in news, sports and entertainment — the most desirable topics for advertisers — according to Reuters. By comparison, cryptocurrency and “not safe for work” (NSFW) content — nudity and porn — are the highest-growing topics of interest among English-speaking heavy users.

Twitter earned more ad revenue from the U.S. than all other markets combined in the fourth quarter, according to its investor letter. Most ads in the U.S. are likely targeting English-speaking users, according to Jasmine Enberg, an analyst at Insider Intelligence.

This shift in interest over the past two years among Twitter’s most active English-speaking users could make the platform less attractive to advertisers.

 A Twitter spokesperson told Reuters, “Our overall audience has continued to grow, reaching 238 million mDAU (daily active users) in Q2 2022.”

Musk admitted he has some buyer’s remorse about his $44 billion acquisition deal for Twitter during Tesla’s third-quarter 2022 earnings call. “Although, obviously, myself and the other investors are obviously overpaying for Twitter right now, the long-term potential for Twitter in my view is an order of magnitude greater than its current value.”

Twitter was trading at $52.90 per share as of this writing.