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Twitter's stock plunges on weak user numbers

28 July 2018

Twitter said Friday morning that its monthly active user (MAU) count was 335 million - one million less than it had last quarter and more than three million below estimates.

Twitter says it's putting the long-term stability of its platform above user growth.

"Twitter's value as a daily service is enhanced when the conversation on the platform is healthier and people feel safe freely expressing themselves", said Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, while speaking on a conference call Friday.

The woes for Twitter came a day after Facebook lost an unprecedented $120 billion in market value following its earnings report that sent investors into a panic over cooling growth for the social network star.

Twitter is now attempting to rein in the worst offenders after years as one of the Wild West corners of the internet.

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Worldwide revenue grew 44 percent in the quarter from a year earlier while sales in the US, the company's largest market, increased 10 percent. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had expected an adjusted income of 17 cents per share on almost $697 million in revenue. The company said that daily active users increased 10 percent compared to previous year, but - inexcusably - does not disclose the actual figures. It was the company's third profit in a row and the third it has ever posted.

Despite Twitter suffering its second-worst loss since it went public in November 2013, the stock has still doubled in value over the last 12 months.

"They're cleaning up a lot of MAUs that are not good or real", said Richard Greenfield, an analyst at BTIG, referring to monthly active users. Twitter denied shadow banning, and said the problem was down to a bug that affected "hundreds of thousands of accounts." 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.

Facebook didn't add any daily active users in North America in the past quarter, and saw a decline in Europe.

Twitter would like to do more work on using machine learning to serve active users more relevant content and help newcomers find what interests them so they stay with the service.

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Twitter's relations with advertisers have been strained by concerns about phony accounts bought by users to boost their following. Net income was $100 million, or 13 cents a share, compared with a loss of $117 million, or 16 cents.

Wall Street was looking for Q2 earnings of 17 cents a share with $696.2 million in revenue.

Twitter said it benefited from two weeks of the FIFA World Cup in the second quarter, with ads tied to the soccer tournament generating $30 million in revenue.

The company increased its capital expenditures forecast for the year to between $450 million and $500 million, from $375 million to $450 million, as it expands and upgrades the computer infrastructure underlying its service.

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Twitter's stock plunges on weak user numbers