Twitter still has a lot to show and prove – CNET


Twitter will release its second-quarter earnings on Thursday, July 27.

Oscar Gutiérrez/CNET

Ed Sheeran has quit Twitter. For real, this time.

The singer, who’s been experiencing his fair share of trolling on the platform, said a few weeks back that he was keeping his account and refraining from reading anything except Harry Potter.

But his latest cameo on “Game of Thrones,” widely criticized by fans, proved to be the last straw.

“I don’t use this anymore,” Sheeran wrote on his Twitter, telling fans to follow him on Instagram instead.

Sheeran’s not the only person frustrated with Twitter: Celebrities like Kanye West, Emma Stone and Lindsay Lohan have also deleted their accounts

And it’s nothing new. Let’s not forget how Zelda Williams, daughter of Robin Williams, temporarily deleted the app in 2014 after receiving harsh tweets following her father’s suicide, and “Ghostbusters” star Leslie Jones endured a flood of racist messages on the same platform. While it’s less visible, regular users experience similar trollish behavior that can make it difficult for anyone to stick around.

It’s that culture of negativity that underscores Twitter’s problem, and something that will be under the microscope when the company reports its second-quarter results on July 27.

Harassment isn’t Twitter’s only issue. The company has also vowed to address problems that make the service too insular for new users. If you’re not on Twitter now, you probably won’t “get it.”

Twitter had a chance to shake things up when it offered a redesign in early June, touting it as one that makes the service “lighter, faster, and easier to use,” according to Grace Kim, Twitter’s vice president of User Research & Design. With this redesign, Twitter claims to be addressing the frustrations and suggestions from current customers and attempting to attract new users who previously stayed away.

Inspirations for this newest update came from CEO Jack Dorsey‘s idea to launch #Twitter2017 — an open call for suggestions to improve the platform. Tackling issues like trolls and strengthening abuse protection were major suggestions by users, yet they remained unaddressed in the update.

As most of Twitter’s redesigns have gone, this one is receiving mixed reviews.

The reaction raises the question again: Is Twitter doing enough?

Remember, Twitter performed better than expected in the first quarter, adding 9 million users when many people on Wall Street thought it would lose users. It marked the biggest improvement in two years.

But Michael Pachter, who covers Twitter at Wedbush Securities, heavily attributes Twitter’s success in the first quarter to “the Trump effect.”

“Users grew primarily because of President Donald Trump’s use of Twitter and the notoriety that followed,” he said. “We’ll see if this is a long-lasting effect.”

James Cakmak, an analyst with Monness, Crespi, Hardt & Co., thinks this new user spike will be short-lived. He estimates that new Twitter users may drop to at least half of the 9 million reported three months ago as “political fatigue kicks in.”

Twitter, on the other hand, attributes its user growth to a variety of its internal decisions like product improvements including more relevance within timelines and notifications, according to a letter to shareholders.

This includes still betting big on live streaming as Twitter announced in May more than a dozen new sports, music and news programs that makes it resemble more of a media entity than a social network. The company also just launched a new filter (its latest attempt to combat trolling) that lets you mute users who don’t follow you or who have a brand-new account.

But it’s not just about accommodating active users on the platform — Twitter also needs to do a better job of welcoming potential new ones.   

Twitter will have a chance to make that case on Thursday. 

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