Oct. 25 (Reuters) – “Is Twitter dying?” billionaire Elon Musk mused in April, five days before he proposed to buy the social media platform.
According to an internal Twitter ( TWTR.N ) investigation seen by Reuters, the reality goes far beyond a few examples of celebrities debunking their accounts. Twitter is struggling to keep its most active users, who are vital to the business, underscoring the challenge facing Tesla’s ( TSLA.O ) chief executive as he nears a deadline to seal a $44 billion deal to buy the company.
These “heavy tweets” account for less than 10% of total monthly users, but generate 90% of all tweets and half of global revenue. Heavy tweets have been in an “absolute decline” since the pandemic began, with one Twitter researcher asking, “Where did the tweeters go?” wrote in an internal document called
The document says a “heavy tweeter” is someone who logs on to Twitter six or seven days a week and tweets three to four times a week.
The study also found a shift in interests among Twitter’s most active English-speaking users over the past two years, which could make the platform less attractive to advertisers.
The report found that cryptocurrency and “not safe for work” (NSFW) content, which includes nudity and pornography, is the most growing topic of interest among English-language heavy users.
At the same time, among those users, interest in news, sports, and entertainment is decreasing. Tweets on these topics are also the most desirable for advertisers, helping Twitter build an image as the world’s “digital town square,” as Musk once called it.
Twitter declined to specify how many of its tweets were in English or how much money it made from English speakers. But demographics matter to Twitter’s business, some analysts say.
The platform generated more ad revenue from the U.S. than all other markets combined in the fourth quarter, and the majority of U.S. ads likely target English-speaking users, Insider analyst Jasmine Enberg said in an investor letter. Exploration.
Twitter’s research looked at the number of English-language heavy tweeters who are interested in a topic, based on the accounts they follow, and how that number has changed over the past two years.
The documents say Twitter was motivated to investigate “disturbing” trends among users that may have been masked by the overall increase in daily active users and to better understand the decline in the company’s most active users. The study did not come up with any concrete conclusions as to why the platform’s heavy users have declined.
Asked to comment on the findings of internal documents on Monday, a Twitter spokesperson said: “We regularly conduct research on various trends that develop based on what is happening around the world. Our total audience continued to grow, reaching 238 million mDAU in Q2 2022.” a spokesperson said, using the acronym for daily active users who can earn money.
‘NOT SAFE FOR WORK’ CONTENT
According to the study, the number of heavy users interested in NSFW and cryptocurrency content has increased.
Twitter is one of the few major social media platforms that allows nudity on its service, and the company estimated that adult content makes up 13% of Twitter, according to a separate internal slide presentation seen by Reuters. The presentation did not provide detailed information on how the figure was calculated.
Advertisers generally shy away from controversy or nudity for fear of damaging their brand. Major advertisers including Dyson, PBS Kids and Forbes have suspended ads on Twitter because of accounts soliciting child pornography, Reuters reported in September.
In response to the September story, Twitter said it has “zero tolerance for child sexual exploitation” and is putting more resources into its work against such material.
Twitter’s most active English-speaking users are also increasingly interested in cryptocurrencies, reaching an all-time high at the end of 2021, internal documents show. But interest in the topic has waned since the fall in cryptocurrency prices in June, and the study noted that cryptocurrencies may not be a growth area in the future.
Current and former Twitter employees who spoke to Reuters said they feared Musk’s calls for less moderation of content, saying it would exacerbate the deterioration in the quality of the employees’ content.
The documents show that the topics that have traditionally made Twitter a popular platform for its millions of users are now declining among the most active English-speaking users.
Interest in world news, as well as liberal politics, spiked during major events such as the attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. But the categories have since lost the most Twitter users and show no signs of slowing down. recovery, the report said.
Twitter is also losing a “devastating” percentage of heavy users who are interested in fashion or celebrities, such as the Kardashian family. Those users likely prefer rival platforms such as Meta Platform’s ( META.O ) Instagram and ByteDance’s TikTok, the Twitter researcher wrote.
The study also expressed surprise at the decline in interest in eSports and online personalities, which had previously grown rapidly on Twitter. “Great communities are now in decline,” the report said.
“There appears to be a significant mismatch between our company values and our growth models,” said a Twitter researcher.
Reporting by Sheila Dang in Dallas Editing by Kenneth Lee and Matthew Lewis
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