Twitter users rise as firm targets abuse

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Twitter founder Jack Dorsey answered questions at TED on problems with his platform at last week’s Vancouver conference

Twitter has reported rising numbers of users and higher revenues, days after its chief executive promised to consider changes to the platform.

The company’s revenue rose to $787m (£605m) in the first quarter, up 18% from a year earlier.

The number of daily active users rose 11% from a year earlier to 134 million.

The firm’s founder, Jack Dorsey, has said he regrets that Twitter’s design encourages “outrage”.

He told a TED conference in Vancouver last week that he was ready to make changes to the way the site operates to try to make it more conversational and to discourage abuse and misinformation.

Social media companies are coming under increased pressure to police the content of their sites more closely, following scandals over mental health, user privacy, hate speech and political campaigning.

Announcing Twitter’s latest results, Mr Dorsey said: “We are taking a more proactive approach to reducing abuse and its effects on Twitter.”

The firm was trying to reduce the burden on victims by using artificial intelligence to spot abusive tweets and to take them down before they were reported, he said.

“We’re also continuing our work to make Twitter more conversational via the launch of our public prototype app (twttr), with the end goal of making conversation on Twitter feel faster, more fluid and more fun,” said Mr Dorsey.


Last week at the TED conference, Mr Dorsey said the firm might demote likes and follows, adding that in hindsight he would not have designed the platform to highlight these.

“We’ve seen harassment, manipulation, misinformation which are dynamics we did not expect 13 years ago when we founded the company,” he told TED curator Chris Anderson.

The dynamics of the system made it “super-easy to harass others” he said.

Purged accounts

Twitter reported a quarterly profit of $191m compared with $61m a year earlier.

Over the course of last year the platform’s monthly users fell from 336 million to 321 million, which Twitter said was due to a purge of abusive and fake accounts. But in the most recent quarter monthly users rose again to 330 million.

In February, the micro-blogging site said it would stop reporting monthly user numbers as a key metric to measure its popularity. Instead it is shifting to a new metric, “monetisable daily active users”, which is defined as users who can see advertising on the platform.