October 25 (Reuters) – Is Twitter dying? Billionaire Elon Musk mused in April, five days before he offered to buy the social media platform.
The reality, according to internal Twitter research (TWTR.N) seen by Reuters, goes well beyond just a handful of examples of celebrities darkening their private accounts. Twitter is struggling to keep its most active users — who are vital to business — engaged, highlighting the challenge the Tesla (TSLA.O) CEO faces as he approaches the deadline to close his $44 billion deal to buy the company.
These “heavy tweeters” account for less than 10% of total monthly users but generate 90% of all tweets and half of global revenue. A researcher wrote on Twitter in an internal document titled “Where did the tweeters go?”
The document said a “heavy tweeter” is defined as someone who logs on to Twitter six or seven days a week and tweets about three to four times a week.
The research also found a shift in interests over the past two years among the most active English-speaking Twitter users, 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, are the most popular topics for English-speaking users.
At the same time, interest in news, sports and entertainment among these users is waning. Tweets on those topics, which helped Twitter polish an image as the world’s “digital town square,” as Musk once called it, are also the most desirable things for advertisers to do.
Twitter declined to say how many tweets it tweets in English or how much money it makes from English speakers. But some analysts say demographics are important to Twitter’s business.
Jasmine Enberg, an analyst at Insider, said the platform earned more ad revenue from the United States alone than all other markets combined in the fourth quarter, according to the investor letter, and most ads in the United States are likely to target English-speaking users. intelligence.
The Twitter study examined the number of English-heavy tweeters who showed interest in a topic, based on the accounts they followed, and how that number of users has changed over the past two years.
The documents said Twitter was eager to investigate “disturbing” trends among users that may have been masked by overall growth in daily active users and a better understanding of the decline in the company’s most active users. The study did not come to definitive conclusions about why users are pulling back so heavily to the platform.
Asked to comment on the findings of the internal documents, a Twitter spokesperson said on Monday: “We regularly conduct research on a variety of trends, which evolve based on what’s happening in the world. Our general audience has continued to grow, reaching 238 million mDAU in the quarter. 2nd of 2022,” the spokesperson said, using an acronym for monetized daily active users.
‘Not safe to work’ content
The research found that the number of users interested in NSFW content and cryptocurrency increased.
Twitter is one of the few major social media platforms to allow nudity on its service, and the company has estimated that adult content makes up 13% of Twitter, according to a separate internal presentation seen by Reuters. The presentation did not explain how to calculate the number.
Advertisers generally shy away from controversy or nudity for fear of harming their brands. Reuters reported in September that major advertisers, including Dyson, PBS Kids and Forbes, had suspended ads due to accounts that were urging child pornography on Twitter.
In response to the September story, Twitter said it “has zero tolerance for child sexual exploitation” and is investing more resources in its work against such material.
Internal documents show that the most active English-speaking Twitter users have been increasingly interested in cryptocurrencies, reaching an all-time high in late 2021. But interest in the topic has fallen since crypto prices crashed in June, and the study notes that cryptocurrencies may not Have room for growth in the future.
Current and former Twitter employees who spoke with Reuters said they feared Musk’s calls to reduce content moderation and his reported plans to furlough employees, which they said would worsen the deterioration of content quality.
Documents show that topics that have traditionally made Twitter a popular platform for millions of users are now falling behind among the most active English-speaking users.
Interest in world news, as well as liberal politics, showed great heights during major events such as the attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. But since then the categories have lost the largest number of Twitter users massively and show no signs of doing so. said the report.
Twitter is also losing a ‘devastating’ percentage of users with a heavy interest in fashion or celebrities like the Kardashian family. A researcher wrote on Twitter that these users are more likely to switch to competing platforms such as Meta Platform (META.O) Instagram and ByteDance’s TikTok.
The study also expressed surprise at the waning interest in esports and online streaming personalities, which had previously been growing rapidly via Twitter. “Large communities are now deteriorating,” the report said.
“There seems to be a huge discrepancy between what I might imagine our company values and our growth patterns,” one researcher wrote on Twitter.
Additional reporting by Sheila Dang in Dallas. Editing by Kenneth Lee and Matthew Lewis
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