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As IPO Nears, Do Twitter's Active User Claims Add Up? 73

netbuzz writes "With Twitter's IPO looming, an independent developer who is intimately familiar with the makeup and behavior of the site's users says his analysis of 1 million random accounts does not support the company's claims of 215 million active monthly users and 100 million active daily users. In fact, Si Dawson, who until March ran Twit Cleaner, a popular app used to weed deadwood and spammers from Twitter accounts, puts those numbers at 112 million and 48 million, respectively, or about half of what Twitter claims."
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As IPO Nears, Do Twitter's Active User Claims Add Up?

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  • None of that matters (Score:4, Informative)

    by gelfling ( 6534 ) on Tuesday November 05, 2013 @05:28PM (#45339807) Homepage Journal

    Twitter doesn't make any money and it's not clear how they would. But again, none of that matters. It's buzz it's bubble it's sizzle it's cool. Money will 'develop' on it's own. And if not - Microsoft will buy them and kill it.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      They'll slap ad banners on every user's page and mandate "legitimate-looking" ad tweets, not unlike what Slashdot is doing now with their comments in the discussions.

      In other words, all of the unofficial spam will now magically become "official" spam, and there will be no points of the website other than to be force-fed ads and troll other users.

      -- Ethanol-fueled

    • by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Tuesday November 05, 2013 @06:25PM (#45340393) Journal
      They'll make money the same way all of their predecessors did.
      1) Start "free" social-something service.
      2) Become popular.
      3) IPO, or get bought by some company who did exactly the same thing as you're doing now.
      4) Stick ads everywhere, and sell whatever data you can glean from your users and content to whoever will pay for it.
      5) Profit!

      I'm no hippie, but I think it's kind of sad (and insulting) that everything seems to revolve around advertisement and consumer data nowadays.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Step 2 is the hard one.
      • Then you should (like everyone I might had) to start reading the fineprints when you sign up stop using it when they had ads. Also, if they are using your data and selling it and agreeing it when you signed up, its your own fault (by YOU I mean the poeple since theres millions in there).

        There's some responsibility here to take. If you sign up, and in the signup it says (in the 135th page) that they will sell you data or have the rights to do so AND if you don't like it or don't agree to that, then its your

      • It's pretty pathetic when you consider the Internet was build for decentralized peer to peer information exchanges -- Capable of routing around cities vaporized by nuclear attacks in moments. Combined with the fact that information silohs are stupid. Everyone values sending data to eachother and publishing a bit of data to their friends, and all the computers are fully capable of connecting directly to the sources of information -- Hell, a DHT for celeb info if you absolutely must.

        The problem with social

    • by fermion ( 181285 )
      I think that advertisers are always looking to get to the 25-40 year old demographic that is approaching or in their highest spending patterns. They have money for more than beer, and are beginning to spend real money on routine household items. Twitter might provide connections that other media can't. I know I have seen young people move from Facebook to Twitter. I don't use either that much anymore, but then I am not in the demographic.
    • by naoursla ( 99850 )

      They make money the old fashion way: Volume.

    • FWIW I'm just looking into advertising on Twitter for my product, some people reports that twitter is comparable to adwords for some situations and way better than Facebook: []

      I'm a very light user but when I noticed "sponsored tweets" in my feed I actually read/consumed almost all of the info in them before I realized they were sponsored. And I wasn't annoyed that I did, more lightly amused that they got me t

  • by Anonymous Coward

    My brief encounters with twitter suggest that the population is 8% talkative narcissists, 12% adoring fans, 30% spambots, 50% people who thought they were signing up for something else and have since abandoned their accounts.

    Is there any way to short a stock that isn't on the market yet?

    • No, with a few very narrow exceptions. Generally you have to wait 30 days after.

      I believe they have convertible bonds you could short but there would be additional technical issues and risks.

  • Is Twitter engaging in "changes for the sake of changes" which are beginning to drive users away?

    Ebay is doing it.

    Facebook is doing it. /. is probably doing it, as well.

    • Have you seen the new beta /. site yet? It's an absolute abomination. If/when they go live with it I really think that will mark the end of this site.

      • Have you seen the new beta /. site yet? It's an absolute abomination. If/when they go live with it I really think that will mark the end of this site.

        That's pretty much what I told /. in the survey that came with the Beta linky. But then, /. really is approaching shark jumping territory, and maybe when they do, something better will emerge.

  • Users? Profits? Bah!

    As everybody knows the important question to ask about tech companies is... how much are stupid investors willing to pay for it...?
  • A scorched earth policy of leaving no account standing would be better than actually sifting for usage. :)

  • Second, and more important, you need to accept Twitter's contention that 40% of its active users never Tweet (either literally or not within the past month).

    Si Dawson can't see the people who just use Twitter as an RSS feed. These people are likely Twitters most active users. People who check their phone everyday to see what so and so is doing.

    • I use Twitter to store things I want to remember but don't mind losing. When I see a sponsored twit, I comment inappropriately with their hashtags then delete the sponsored twit.
      I don't think I'm using it right. Also, my followers are definitely not using it right. They may have serious mental issues.

    • I dont think you can consider people who see buses go past them in the street as passengers!
      • by Rakishi ( 759894 )

        No but when you're buying ads on the side of the bus that is exactly who you think about.

      • No its like counting the number of unique ids in Slashdot comments to determine Slashdot's readership. Or counting the comments on Youtube vidoes to determine how many people use Youtube. His analaysis applied to Youtube might result in "The number of views Youtube reports on video's is fake. There are not enough comments on the them."
  • over 85% of statistics are made up? :)

    Seriously tho.. popular tech.. incoming IPO.. someone is surprised that a company padded numbers?

  • There is a twitter account that I have wanted for a long time. I rounded up a bunch of friends to report it for spam as its only posting from a long time ago is a "Make money fast" posting. But nope, they haven't done a thing about it. I suspect that it is a "live" account. My guess is that if they were to go through and kill all the dead accounts they would be facing incorrect headlines such as "Users abandoning Twitter, 10% lost in this month alone."
  • Well I would never!
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Tuesday November 05, 2013 @06:05PM (#45340183) Homepage

    Twitter prohibits spam filters. You're not allowed to write a Twitter client with a spam filter. If you do, Twitter will invalidate your OAuth code. So people actually see Twitter spam. That makes Twitter a spam magnet.

    Of course they have huge numbers of fake users. Want to create some fake Twitter accounts? Just get Twitter Account Creator Bot []: "... automatically creates thousands of accounts per day without any human intervention ... " Now only $225. Also available: Twitter Follower Bot ("can follow thousands of profiles using keywords"), "Twitter IDs Grabber Bot", and "Twitter Tweets Replier Bot".

    If you don't want to do it yourself, you can just buy Twitter accounts in bulk. 20,000 Twitter accounts for $400. [] That seems to be the going rate; [] also quotes $400 for 20,000 accounts (with avatar!). Google+ and Facebook accounts cost about 5x as much from the same suppliers. When you see low, low pricing for bulk social network accounts, you can be sure the service isn't trying very hard to stop spammers.

    There's no problem finding social network spamming services. They advertise openly. Just search Google for "bulk twitter accounts". You don't have to go on Black Hat World, build up a reputation, and get into the closed forums. You don't have to get "bulletproof servers" in some third world country. The social spammers aren't hiding.

    (Ad: we could stop this by using SiteTruth [] to find spam links in tweets. I prototyped a Twitter client with spam filtering and tested it. But Twitter doesn't allow that. "Sponsored tweets" have to get through, you know.)

    • heh - i usually 'Block' accounts that do Sponsored Tweets. I wonder if many others do that, and how those accounts would respond if they knew they were being blocked en masse...?
  • oversimplified we can just say that twitter is being rosy because they should and twit cleaner is being not-so-rosy because they should. Let us then just average the claims and call that closest to the truth since both entities are skewing towards their favor.

    And the result:

    163.5 million active monthly

    74 million monthly

  • by rasmusbr ( 2186518 ) on Tuesday November 05, 2013 @06:10PM (#45340221)

    I read stuff at twitter almost everyday and I don't even have a personal account.

    Twitter is more of a broadcast medium than a social network anyway. Most of the most popular accounts are run by celebrities or "stars" in their fields. It seems likely that the number of active users will shrink while those that are active will become more relevant and drive more traffic to the inevitable ads that they will eventually have to add to the site once investors start to ask for profits.

  • There are four types of twitter users.

    1. MSM outlets - they tweet links to their stories vids etc
    2. Active bloggers/users - we retweet stuff and tweet stuff - depends on when we have time
    3. Passive users - they read stuff but rarely tweet anything.
    4. Passive non-users - the read tweets but have no account.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      You nicely listed them in order of importance to Twitter.

      I owned an ISP from Dec 1994 until a couple of months ago. If you exclude homes with a preteen daughter, Twitter isn't even in the top 1,000 of sites for our users. It is actually even worse than that because the demographic info we have isn't complete(based on census data and a couple of other cheap sources so to be honest it is pretty sucky, but better than nothing) so we're still counting a lot of households with preteen daughters. I bet with go

  • Just like how Google attracts a bunch of eyes and then feeds them advertisements, Twitter does the same thing. I'm surprised Twitter doesn't do more sponsored links than it does. I rarely even see one, but they could probably get away with three constantly.
  • At least to judge by the amount of spam that I have received recently from friends who do have twitter accounts; messages claiming to be from them ''inviting me (personal invitation of course) to join twitter''. None of my friends were aware that this crap was being sent in their name.

    I decided some time ago that you must be a twit to need twitter :-)

  • They say they have 215 million monthly users. To me, a user is a person. An account is one of many identities that a person can set up. I can believe 215 million accounts (spam!), but users?

    If they're suggesting that 215 million unique people use Twitter every month and there are about 7.2 billion people on Earth today, they're saying that one in every 34 people in the world sign on to Twitter every month.

    According to this (, about 2.4 billion people have access

  • I use twitter everyday (essentially as a simplified rss reader) and i like it. The user-name i have is not the one i wanted, I have three user-names i use regularly, all were taken. All three of those accounts haven't tweeted anything in years and they've all only tweeted less than 10 times.

    These accounts are still regarded as active - despite a policy of removing inactive accounts after a (unspecified) period. There are thee options: 1) these people install the twitter app on their phone, sign in and n
    • by Eskarel ( 565631 )

      Or they read content produced by others, but don't tweet. It's what I do, I doubt I've even hit 10 tweets, but I'm on twitter at least two or three times a week.

  • The Funny Part (Score:1, Interesting)

    by The Cat ( 19816 ) *

    Will be when IPOs like this one expose the entire Internet ad market as a gigantic ponzi scheme. SEO too.

    Nobody has ever sold jack shit from a web ad. Nobody has ever sold jack shit from being #1 on Google. The whole fucking thing is a scam.

    • I don't know who modded you interesting but they're wrong and so are you. My buying a product from a store appearing as a first result makes you wrong, along with plenty of other people quite probably. I'm not saying that I selected a store based on its position in the results, but the first-result shop carried the product I wanted and I didn't have to look any further.

      I'm not defending all the SEO ball-busting spammers and pseudo-experts (not by a long shot), but it's reasonable to expect that making a
  • Likely to be true!

"How many teamsters does it take to screw in a light bulb?" "FIFTEEN!! YOU GOT A PROBLEM WITH THAT?"