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Twitter’s growth has flatlined since Musk took over

by on10 July 2024

Worth every penny

Growth of Twitter’s user base has reportedly flatlined since Elon [look at me] Musk took over.

According to internal figures obtained by the Financial Times, the social media zoo grew its daily active users by a whopping 1.6 per cent in the 12 months since the second quarter of last year. X now averages 251 million daily active users worldwide, up a few million from around 247 million in 2023.

While that increase is better than a decrease, it's nowhere near the growth Twitter used to enjoy until very recently. We're told the app site saw its user base expand by around 15 per cent every single year from 2019 to 2022, with the exception of 2020, when it exploded by around 35 per cent.

Musk bought Twitter in late 2022 for $44 billion because he claimed that it was crushing the free speech of those who many consider to be neo-nazi nutjobs. He renamed it early last year. The second quarter of 2023 registered roughly a five per cent increase, a far cry from the double-digits in previous years, according to the FT.

Perhaps X's stagnation can't be fully attributed to the site's management under Musk. After all, the pre-acquisition years saw pretty good growth, and there's a point where gaining even more users becomes more challenging. Facebook's growth was famously slowing after all these years, albeit while still commanding an audience of billions.

That all said, Musk telling key advertisers to "go f**k themselves" can't have helped matters.

Twitter has implemented substantial changes since Musk arrived. He promised to address spam bots on the app site.

Musk did make Twitter more monetised, with the now infamous blue checkmark and some DM functionality being locked behind a paywall. The end of free API access over a year ago led to several third-party Twitter apps being discontinued, something that likely isn't conducive to user growth.

Musk himself has been controversial, to say the least. The centre-in-chief has made a habit of expressing pretty divisive views on X, such as in 2022 when he suggested Russia's war on Ukraine could be ended if Kyiv gave up Crimea, permitted new referendums to be held in the regions the Kremlin has annexed, and dropped its bid to join NATO.

The SpaceX supremo claims to be a proponent of absolute free speech and has repeatedly said such openness is an important component of X.

However, it's not clear how dedicated Musk is to that cause, as X is suing nonprofit Media Matters for investigating ads being placed next to hate speech on the platform. A similar suit against another nonprofit was dismissed after a court ruled it was "about punishing the defendants for their speech."

At least some of X's stalled growth is likely due to Threads, the Twitter competitor Facebook parent Meta released a year ago. According to X's reported internal data, in August, nearly 60 per cent of Threads users also used X, while just about 10 per cent of X users were on the alternative platform.

X also has smaller competitors in the open-source Mastodon network, the main gimmick of which is that it's decentralised. Threads has been working towards getting connected to the fediverse since March, and full integration could turn the screws on X even further.

Last modified on 10 July 2024
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