Twitter said Tuesday that its efforts to tackle misleading content around the US elections cost the platform some users.
The company reported having 192 million monetizable daily active users – or users who can be served ads on the platform – during the quarter ending in December, up 27% from the year prior but lower than what Wall Street analysts were expecting. In a letter to shareholders, Twitter (TWTR) said product changes around the election dented its user numbers for the quarter.
Ahead of the US election, the company introduced a number of changes to its product in an effort to clamp down on misinformation. Those efforts included removing tweet recommendations in users’ feeds and notifications, and encouraging users to reshare posts with an added comment – also known as a quote tweet – rather than simply retweeting.
After the election, Twitter rolled back those two changes because it noticed encouraging quote tweets didn’t seem to be increasing context. As for hiding recommended tweets, it did not see a “statistically significant” difference in misinformation as a result of the move.
In the letter to shareholders, Twitter acknowledged that some of the changes were “very effective,” while others were “less effective and, as a result, have been discontinued.”
“In aggregate, the discontinued changes had a small but measurable negative impact on global mDAU [monetizable daily active users] in Q4,” the company said. But Twitter isn’t upset about it. The company said it was “expected and well worth the effort to protect the integrity of the conversation around the election period in the US.”
In addition to the product changes, Twitter also banned former President Donald Trump from its platform permanently last month after some of his supporters stormed the US Capitol.
Without referring to Trump by name, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey addressed the former President’s ban as well as other account takedowns in January, which included a purge of accounts related to the QAnon conspiracy.
“We are a platform that is obviously much larger than any one topic or any one account. Eighty percent of our audience is outside the United States,” Dorsey said on a call with investors. “We are also not dependent upon just news and politics being what drives Twitter.”