Twitter sees modest momentum amid tweaks and critiques – CNET


Are things looking up for Twitter? CEO Jack Dorsey thinks so.

James Martin/CNET

The numbers are budging a bit for Twitter.

For a second straight quarter, the social network reported Thursday, its user growth remained essentially flat. With 330 million users logging in at least once a month — far behind rival Facebook’s more than 2 billion monthly users — Twitter’s become an afterthought for the masses. Kinda.

Twitter, in fact, is one of the most high-profile companies in tech. President Donald Trump turns to it daily to share his thoughts, and leaders from all manner of industries, countries and social movements rely on it to broadcast their ideas, statements and activities.

So what’s the problem?

One of the biggest issues Twitter faces is user harassment: nonstop, daily vicious attacks that for some overtake their lives. And while the attacks have hit celebrities like comedian Leslie Jones, they’ve also ravaged the lives of everyday people.

It came to a head when actress Rose McGowan’s account was briefly suspended in October after tweeting that film producer Harvey Weinstein had sexually harassed her. Following the high-profile #WomenBoycottTwitter protest in response, CEO Jack Dorsey last week announced changes to the company’s harassment policies.

Those changes include giving users who get unwanted sexual advances more power to report them. The company is also prohibiting “creep shots” and hidden camera content under a “nonconsensual nudity” category and will take unspecified actions against organizations that have repeatedly promoted violence. Twitter also vows it will hide hate symbols behind a “sensitive image” warning.

“We’re committed to making Twitter safer, and we continue to improve and leverage our technology to reduce the reach of abusive tweets,” Dorsey said Thursday in a letter to shareholders. “Moving forward, we’re focused on addressing this issue from a policy, enforcement, and product perspective, and we’ll be taking a more aggressive stance on our abuse rules and on how we enforce them.”

For the third quarter, Twitter recorded net income of $78 million, or 10 cents per share, on revenue of $590 million.

Analysts had expected, on average, earnings of 7 cents per share on revenue of $586.7 million, according to Yahoo Finance.

“This quarter we made progress in three key areas of our business: we grew our audience and engagement, made progress on a return to revenue growth, and achieved record profitability,” Dorsey said in a statement.

For the fourth quarter, Twitter said it sees the possibility of becoming “GAAP profitable.” If that happens, it would be a first for the company as measured by what are known as generally accepted accounting principles.

Twitter’s 330 million monthly average users for the third quarter marked a gain of 4 million, or 1 percent, from the second quarter, and an increase of 4 percent from a year ago.

The company noted in its press release that it had miscounted its monthly user numbers slightly since 2014. It had earlier reported 328 million users for the second quarter, for instance. The corrected figure is 326 million.

In premarket trading, Twitter shares were up 8 percent to about $18.50.

iHate: CNET looks at how intolerance is taking over the internet.

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