Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Twitter Revises Active User Figures, Admits 23 Million Are Bots


In its second quarter earnings, Twitter disclosed that as many as 14 percent of the site's monthly active users (MAUs), or about 38 million people, were exclusively using third-party apps. That number was at 7 percent a year ago, meaning a growing amount of users of the service were not seeing ads on Twitter.com. In a new filing this week with the SEC, the company lowered that estimate to 11 percent, or around 8.9 million fewer than previously thought. 

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Twitter explains the mistake by saying that after releasing the original figures, they discovered the 14% "included certain users who accessed Twitter through owned and operated applications." This is likely an acknowledgment that users of the Twitter-owned Tweetdeck were included in earlier estimates.


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In the new filing, the company also adds another noteworthy metric: as many as 8.5% of all MAUs use third-party apps that are able to automatically contact their servers without any human interaction at all. That translates to about 23 million bots, ranging from comical (@MarmiteBot) to public service (@NYCASP). 

"The calculations of MAUs presented in our earnings materials may be affected as a result of automated activity," Twitter acknowledged. The company said they regularly review and adjust their processes and methodology for calculating internal metrics to improve accuracy.

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Last month the San Francisco tech company reported strong user growth for the second quarter. Average monthly active users were 271 million as of June 30, up 24 percent over the same period last year. Twitter also revealed that revenue climbed 124 percent to $312 million for the quarter. Wall Street responded and Twitter stock rose 30 percent.

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