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Twitter Losing Most Active Users Who Generate Half of Global Revenue, Internal Documents Show

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“Is Twitter dying?” billionaire Elon Musk mused in April, five days before offering to buy the social media platform.

The reality, according to internal Twitter research seen by Reuters, goes far beyond the handful of examples of celebrities ghosting their own accounts. Twitter is struggling to keep its most active users – who are vital to the business – engaged, underscoring a challenge faced by the Tesla Inc chief executive as he approaches a deadline to close his $44 billion (Rs. 3.6 lakh crore) deal to buy the company.

These “heavy tweeters” account for less than 10 percent of monthly overall users but generate 90 percent of all tweets and half of global revenue. 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?”

A “heavy tweeter” is defined as someone who logs in to Twitter six or seven days a week and tweets about three to four times a week, the document said.

The research also found a shift in interests over the past two years among Twitter’s most active English-speaking users that could make the platform less attractive to advertisers.

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Cryptocurrency and “not safe for work” (NSFW) content, which includes nudity and pornography, are the highest-growing topics of interest among English-speaking heavy users, the report found.

At the same time, interest in news, sports, and entertainment is waning among those users. Tweets on those topics, which have helped Twitter burnish an image as the world’s “digital town square,” as Musk once called it, are also the most desirable for advertisers.

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Twitter declined to specify how many of its tweets are in English or how much money it makes from English speakers. But the demographic is important to Twitter’s business, some analysts say.

The platform earned more ad revenue from the United States alone than all other markets combined in its fourth quarter, according to its investor letter, and most ads in the United States are likely targeting English-speaking users, said Jasmine Enberg, an analyst at Insider Intelligence.

Twitter’s study examined the number of heavy tweeters in English who displayed an interest in a topic, based on the accounts they followed, and how that number of users changed over the past two years.

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Twitter was motivated to investigate “disturbing” trends among users that may have been masked by overall growth in daily active users and better understand the decline in the company’s most active users, the documents said. The study made no specific conclusions about why heavy users of the platform are declining.

Asked to comment on the internal documents’ findings, a Twitter spokesperson said on Monday: “We regularly conduct research on a wide variety of trends, which evolve based on what’s happening in the world. Our overall audience has continued to grow, reaching 238 million monetizable daily active users (mDAU) in Q2 2022,” the spokesperson said, using an acronym for monetizable daily active users.

‘Not safe for work’ content

The number of heavy users interested in NSFW and cryptocurrency content grew, the research found.

Twitter is one of the few major social media platforms that permits nudity on its service, and the company has estimated that adult content constitutes 13 percent of Twitter, according to a separate internal slide presentation seen by Reuters. The presentation did not elaborate on how the figure was calculated.

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Advertisers generally steer clear of controversy or nudity for fear of damaging their brands. Major advertisers including Dyson, PBS Kids, and Forbes suspended advertising due to accounts that were soliciting child pornography on Twitter, Reuters reported in September.

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In response to the September story, Twitter said it “has zero tolerance for child sexual exploitation” and was investing more resources into its work against such material.

Twitter’s most active English-speaking users were also increasingly interested in cryptocurrencies, reaching an all-time high in late 2021, the internal documents showed. But interest in the topic has declined since the crypto price crash in June, and the study noted cryptocurrencies may not be an area of growth in the future.

Current and former Twitter employees who spoke with Reuters said they feared Musk’s calls for less content moderation and his reported plans to gut the staff, which they said will exacerbate the deterioration of the quality of content.

‘Devastating’ losses

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Topics that have traditionally made Twitter a popular platform for its millions of users are now in decline among the most active English-speaking users, the documents show.

Interest in world news, as well as liberal politics, showed spikes during major events such as the attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. But the categories have since lost the highest number of heavy Twitter users and have shown no signs of 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. These users are likely decamping to rival platforms like Meta’s Instagram and ByteDance’s TikTok, a Twitter researcher wrote.

The study also expressed surprise about the decline in interest in e-sports and online streaming personalities, which were previously growing quickly across Twitter. “The big communities are now in decline,” the report said.

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“It seems as though there is a significant discrepancy between what I might imagine are our company values and our growth patterns,” one Twitter researcher wrote.

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© Thomson Reuters 2022


Apple launched the iPad Pro (2022) and the iPad (2022) alongside the new Apple TV this week. We discuss the company’s latest products, along with our review of the iPhone 14 Pro on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.

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Twitter Stops Enforcing COVID-19 Misinformation Policy, Experts Express Concerns Over False Claims

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Twitter will no longer enforce its policy against COVID-19 misinformation, raising concerns among public health experts and social media researchers that the change could have serious consequences if it discourages vaccination and other efforts to combat the still-spreading virus.

Eagle-eyed users spotted the change Monday night, noting that a one-sentence update had been made to Twitter’s online rules: “Effective November 23, 2022, Twitter is no longer enforcing the COVID-19 misleading information policy.”

By Tuesday, some Twitter accounts were testing the new boundaries and celebrating the platform’s hands-off approach, which comes after Twitter was purchased by Elon Musk.

“This policy was used to silence people across the world who questioned the media narrative surrounding the virus and treatment options,” tweeted Dr. Simone Gold, a physician and leading purveyor of COVID-19 misinformation. “A win for free speech and medical freedom!”

Twitter’s decision to no longer remove false claims about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines disappointed public health officials, however, who said it could lead to more false claims about the virus, or the safety and effectiveness of vaccines.

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“Bad news,” tweeted epidemiologist Eric Feigl-Ding, who urged people not to flee Twitter but to keep up the fight against bad information about the virus. “Stay folks — do NOT cede the town square to them!”

While Twitter’s efforts to stop false claims about COVID weren’t perfect, the company’s decision to reverse course is an abdication of its duty to its users, said Paul Russo, a social media researcher and dean of the Katz School of Science and Health at Yeshiva University in New York.

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Russo added that it’s the latest of several recent moves by Twitter that could ultimately scare away some users and even advertisers. Some big names in business have already paused their ads on Twitter over questions about its direction under Musk.

“It is 100% the responsibility of the platform to protect its users from harmful content,” Russo said. “This is absolutely unacceptable.”

The virus, meanwhile, continues to spread. Nationally, new COVID cases averaged nearly 38,800 a day as of Monday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University — far lower than last winter but a vast undercount because of reduced testing and reporting. About 28,100 people with COVID were hospitalized daily and about 313 died, according to the most recent federal daily averages.

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Cases and deaths were up from two weeks earlier. Yet a fifth of the U.S. population hasn’t been vaccinated, most Americans haven’t gotten the latest boosters, and many have stopped wearing masks.

Musk, who has himself spread COVID misinformation on Twitter, has signalled an interest in rolling back many of the platform’s previous rules meant to combat misinformation.

Last week, Musk said he would grant “amnesty” to account holders who had been kicked off Twitter. He’s also reinstated the accounts for several people who spread COVID misinformation, including that of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, whose personal account was suspended this year for repeatedly violating Twitter’s COVID rules.

Greene’s most recent tweets include ones questioning the effectiveness of masks and making baseless claims about the safety of COVID vaccines.

Since the pandemic began, platforms like Twitter and Facebook have struggled to respond to a torrent of misinformation about the virus, its origins and the response to it.

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Under the policy enacted in January 2020, Twitter prohibited false claims about COVID-19 that the platform determined could lead to real-world harms. More than 11,000 accounts were suspended for violating the rules, and nearly 100,000 pieces of content were removed from the platform, according to Twitter’s latest numbers.

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Despite its rules prohibiting COVID misinformation, Twitter has struggled with enforcement. Posts making bogus claims about home remedies or vaccines could still be found, and it was difficult on Tuesday to identify exactly how the platform’s rules may have changed.

Messages left with San Francisco-based Twitter seeking more information about its policy on COVID-19 misinformation were not immediately returned Tuesday.

A search for common terms associated with COVID misinformation on Tuesday yielded lots of misleading content, but also automatic links to helpful resources about the virus as well as authoritative sources like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House COVID-19 coordinator, said Tuesday that the problem of COVID-19 misinformation is far larger than one platform, and that policies prohibiting COVID misinformation weren’t the best solution anyway.

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Speaking at a Knight Foundation forum Tuesday, Jha said misinformation about the virus spread for a number of reasons, including legitimate uncertainty about a deadly illness. Simply prohibiting certain kinds of content isn’t going to help people find good information, or make them feel more confident about what they’re hearing from their medical providers, he said.

“I think we all have a collective responsibility,” Jha said of combating misinformation about COVID. “The consequences of not getting this right — of spreading that misinformation — is literally tens of thousands of people dying unnecessarily.”


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Elon Musk Hints at Plans to Increase Character Limit for Tweets in Response to Twitter User

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Twitter could expand its character limit from 280, according to a tweet by new owner Elon Musk. The world’s richest man and Twitter’s new CEO responded to a user on the microblogging platform requesting the higher character limit, stating that it was part of the company’s plan. Twitter is also working on adding encrypted direct messages (DMs), and payment services, according a set of slides recently shared by Musk on Twitter. However, it is currently unclear whether the increased character limit will be the same as the longform tweet feature teased by the company’s CEO.

On Monday, Musk responded to a Twitter user asking him to expand the 280-character limit for on tweets on Twitter to 1,000 characters. Musk responded, stating :It’s on the todo list.”

Twitter, which is referred to as a “microblogging service”, originally had a 140-character limit for tweets, which was expanded to 280 characters in 2017. At the time, the company’s blog stated that “many people Tweeted the full 280 limit because it was new and novel, but soon after behaviour normalised…We saw when people needed to use more than 140 characters, they Tweeted more easily and more often.”

The platform is one of the few services that limits users’ posts to a few hundred characters. Rival Facebook allow users to upload posts with thousands of characters.

Musk has shown interest in the idea of increasing the character limit on a number of occasions since his takeover of the platform, as per a report by Mashable.

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On November 27, a Twitter user suggested to Musk to increase the platform’s word limit from 280 to 420. “Good idea” Musk wrote in response.

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Prior to that, another user had suggested “get rid of character limits,” to which Musk responded: “Absolutely”.

Musk recently announced another major change for the platform with its multi-coloured verification system. A new three-coloured verification check mark system would replace the previous ‘Twitter Blue’ service which had to be pulled off within days of its release due to rising number of accounts impersonating well-known brands and personalities while carrying the ‘verified’ check. The new Twitter Blue verification service will tentatively be relaunched on December 2, according to Musk.


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WhatsApp ‘Message Yourself’ Feature Rolling Out on Android and iOS: Report

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WhatsApp is rolling out its Message Yourself feature to users globally. The app will now let you send a text to yourself, to store messages and files. Many users around the globe rely on WhatsApp chats to jot down quick notes or reminders, or crucial information. Until now, users would use a workaround to message themselves, or use a second WhatsApp account registered to another phone number, or rely on a chat window of a defunct WhatsApp account to store messages. WhatsApp will now let you do it easily via one of its new in-built features called Message Yourself.

According to a report by TechCrunch, the Meta owned messaging app has begun to roll out the ability to message yourself. The ‘Message Yourself’ feature will be similar to sending a text to another user, except that the message will remain in a separate chat on your phone.

Once the feature is rolled out, users will see a separate chat with their name followed by “(You)”. You will be able to jot down notes, shopping lists, keep reminders, store bookmarks. You will also be able to forward messages from other users, just like you can for other chats.

You can tap on the new chat button from the WhatsApp home screen and select your name. Once you tap on it, you will be able to send texts to yourself. If you are in another app, you can also use the sharing menu to send files, images, and other media to yourself.

WhatsApp says that the Message Yourself feature is now rolling out and should reach most Android and iOS users in the coming weeks, as per the report. Users can download the latest version of the app on Android and iOS to use the Message Yourself feature.

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Recently, the messaging app also introduced a new feature that will let iOS and Android users create polls in personal and group chats to get opinions or answers from their friends and contacts. Users’ responses to a poll’s question are protected via end-to-end encryption, according to the company.

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