TWITTER IN THE SHITTER


It looks like throwing people off your social media platform for, say, not liking the feminist version of "Ghostbusters" and other Orwellian acts may not be the best business strategy. 

Someone should tell Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, as his company has taken a big hit in share price and users, according to data on its second quarter. 

Shares plunged by as much as 10% in pre-market trading on Thursday (27th July), following an earnings report that revealed a shrinking active user base (people who use it every month). 

This key number  plummeted from 70 million to 68 million. The total number of Twitter users -- 328 million -- is not important as most of these are dead accounts with no followers. 


Company revenues also fell by 8% ($489 million compared to $535 million in the same quarter last year). This means that the company continues to be a loss-making entity that has never actually posted any kind of net profit, meaning that it continues to live entirely off capital from investors who may never see an actual profit.

By contrast other social media and internet giants like Facebook and Google are doing so well that they are effectively monopolies that will need to be regulated under anti-trust laws. But why can't Twitter join them? 

The problem is that the company is in a couple of awkward double binds. 

First there is the problem of trolling vs. censorship, with the company taking an increasingly heavy handed approach, suspending or banning accounts, even though users already have sufficient tools to "censor" other users simply by blocking them. This nanny approach is aimed at pleasing advertisers, but ironically by helping to kill a lot of the virality of the service it also displeases them at the same time. 

Also, Twitter has been abusing its censorship power by banning and suspending non-trollish accounts of which it disapproves for purely ideological reasons. (CEO Dorsey is a Hillary Clinton supporting PoS.)

The other double bind is improved features vs. load times. In an attempt to improve daily use stats, the company is trying to upgrade its simple 140-character format with more video and content options. This may help to keep existing users, but it actually makes it more difficult to attract new users in low-data parts of the world like India, which represent the only real chance for the company to expand its user base. 

New target audience.
In an attempt to square this circle, in April the company launched "Twitter Lite," a less data-light version of its service that takes up less than 1 megabyte of storage. So, effectively the company is pulling in two different directions at present.
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