Twitter's experiments pay off as user numbers grow
More people are flocking to the site on a daily basis.
Queenie WongFormer Senior Writer
Queenie Wong was a senior writer for CNET News, focusing on social media companies including Facebook's parent company Meta, Twitter and TikTok. Before joining CNET, she worked for The Mercury News in San Jose and the Statesman Journal in Salem, Oregon. A native of Southern California, she took her first journalism class in middle school.
ExpertiseI've been writing about social media since 2015 but have previously covered politics, crime and education. I also have a degree in studio art.Credentials
A born browser of dictionaries and a lifelong New Englander, Jon Skillings is director of copy editing at CNET. He honed his language skills as a US Army linguist (Polish and German) before diving into editing tech publications back when the web was just getting under way. He writes occasionally, on topics from GPS to James Bond.
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30 years experience at tech and consumer publications, print and online. Five years in the US Army as a translator (German and Polish).
The new results suggest Twitter is making progress in efforts to attract and retain users, something it's struggled with in the past. Despite its popularity with celebrities, public figures and politicians, including President Donald Trump, the social network is smaller than its competitors. By comparison, Facebook has 1.59 billion daily active users.
Twitter sees some of its biggest traffic during live events, such as award shows, sport games and television shows, when people gather on the site to tweet in real time. Twitter is trying to lean into that popularity. On Thursday, the company said it inked a deal with NBCUniversal to broadcast content about the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Still, navigating the flood of tweets can be confusing and the site can be filled with toxic harassment. With the help of its users, Twitter has been testing new features, such as adding color to replies and a tool to hide replies to tweets, to address some of those problems.
Look for those efforts to continue. On a conference call with analysts on Friday, CEO
pointed to the ways Twitter's been trying to improve what users encounter and said the company will keep working on further refinements.
"We want to add a lot more controls within the timeline around relevance," he said. "What's most important for us is agility," or the ability for the company to "quickly experiment" and learn what's working and what's not.
A key part of that, Dorsey said, is an increased reliance on machine learning to deliver more relevant content.
"We'll be building more technology to address the problems" around behavior that violates Twitter's rules, he said. "Health [of the platform] is going to be an ongoing initiative for us."
Watch this: Twitter to start hiding tweets that violate policies, Zuckerberg speaks out on doctored video
Twitter has also started labeling certain tweets that violate its rules but are important to the public interest. The practice, introduced in June, applies to politicians who are verified and have more than 100,000 followers. The company rolled the rule out as it balanced the calls to ban the president for hate speech and spreading misinformation with the complaints from Trump and other prominent Republicans that Twitter has censored conservative speech.
With the 2020 US elections approaching, Dorsey said that Twitter will work on a number of fronts: identifying forms of misinformation and manipulation, ensuring transparency around who's posting what and challenging suspicious behavior.
"The No. 1 priority within elections is making sure we're protecting the integrity of conversations," he said.
Twitter has been making other tweaks to its site. This month, the company rolled out a redesigned desktop site in an effort to make it easier to navigate.
The social network reported $841 million in revenue, beating the $829.03 million that analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected. Excluding both certain expenses and a significant tax benefit, the company earned 5 cents per share, compared with Wall Street's expectations of 19 cents per share.
The company's stock jumped more than 6% to around $40.65 per share in premarket trading.
Originally published July 26 at 4:14 a.m. PT. Update, 6:03 a.m.: Adds comments from Twitter's conference call with analysts.