Why is Twitter getting trumped by Facebook?

Despite Trump’s tweets, the social media site hasn’t capitalised – not where it counts

Despite being ground zero for Donald Trump’s musings, Twitter increased its daily active users by just 2 million in the fourth quarter of 2016, while Facebook added 72 million.  Photograph: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Despite being ground zero for Donald Trump’s musings, Twitter increased its daily active users by just 2 million in the fourth quarter of 2016, while Facebook added 72 million. Photograph: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

 

For a company that has the tagline “It’s what’s happening”, Twitter seems to have found itself in a bit of a conundrum. At a time when you would expect the social media platform to be thriving, given the events in the UK and the US, Twitter hasn’t really managed to capitalise – at least, not where it counts.

Twitter is ground zero for the musing of US president Donald Trump. He frequently tweets everything from his objections to his coverage, his approval ratings, his perceived opponents, the “fake news” surrounding his administration and his many, many achievements since entering office.

But despite that direct line, Twitter only grew its user base by 2 million active users in the fourth quarter of the year. It now has 319 million monthly active users. That is a figure that is dwarfed by Facebook’s active users – more than 1.1 billion at the last count – and its growth, which was set at 72 million active users in the last quarter.

Daily active users

Anthony Noto

It also still has a massive problem with harassment – something that has been a constant battle on Twitter, and it doesn’t seem as if victory is certain for the platform.

Despite the lacklustre growth figures, chief executive Jack Dorsey is confident that the company has its place in the public sphere. Speaking in an analyst call, he said: “The whole world is watching Twitter. While we may not be currently meeting everyone’s growth expectations, there is one thing that continues to grow and outpace our peers: Twitter’s influence and impact.”

Cold, hard cash

The real question is, exactly what is “it” that’s happening at Twitter? Where exactly is Twitter going wrong? What can Dorsey and co do to propel the platform into the next stage? Answers in 140 characters or less, please.

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