Twitter is facing a hard time stabilizing its user base


Twitter’s woes deepened recently as the struggling messaging platform said it failed to add users in the past quarter, adding to concerns it is lagging in the fast-moving world of social networks. The San Francisco group said its base of monthly active users was 320 million at the end of last year, unchanged from the previous quarter. In addition, excluding those who follow Twitter using text messaging, the user base declined slightly to 305 million from 307 million in the previous quarter. Twitter, which has never earned a profit, said its loss in the past quarter narrowed to US $90.2 million from US $125 million a year earlier, but the market was focused more on its user growth.

Twitter shares dropped more than 3 percent in after-market trades that followed the release of the report, extending a steep decline that has eroded some 75 percent of its value from peak levels. The latest report showed revenue climbed 48 percent to US $710 million in the quarter when compared to the same period a year earlier. Twitter revenue for the full year was up 58 percent to US $2.2 billion. Twitter has been under pressure to prove it can expand beyond its fierce following to be a mainstream society hit. But its outlook for the current quarter failed to allay concerns, with revenue growth below most forecasts. The company projected revenue of US $595 million to US $629 million, below most forecasts of US $629 million.

Twitter announced earlier Wednesday it was revamping its timeline, allowing the “best” tweets to rise to the top, despite warnings of a revolt from members loyal to the real-time flow of the messaging platform. The latest tweak was aimed at injecting new life into the one-to-many messaging service, by moving away from a purely chronological timeline to one determined by algorithm, as used by social network leader Facebook. Twitter said the “Show me the best tweets first” feature is optional and that users can stick with tweets rushing by like leaves on a fast-moving river, if they prefer. But reports of the timeline shift have already prompted protests from some users who say it may lead to the death of the platform, tweeting with the hashtag #RIPTwitter. Dorsey said that Twitter use “bounced back” in January and that the company was confident it could keep the trend going. Twitter was expecting spikes in use focused on major events such as the Olympics and the US presidential election, and intent on getting new users to stick with the service.

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