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Twitter says user growth has picked up since Elon Musk took over

Twitter has said that user growth is “accelerating” and hit “all-time highs” during Elon Musk’s first week at the helm, as it attempts to reassure advertisers after a growing number paused their spending on the social media platform since his takeover.

In an email sent on Monday to some advertisers, seen by the Financial Times, Twitter said that growth in its monetisable active daily users (mDAUs) — a homegrown metric that counts the number of logged-in users to whom the platform shows advertising — hit “all-time highs” last week, accelerating to 20 per cent from 15 per cent in the second quarter.

“Twitter’s largest market, the US, is growing even more quickly,” the email said. Musk closed the deal to buy the platform for $44bn on October 27.

Since the second quarter ended on June 30, the company added more than 15mn monetisable daily active users “crossing the quarter billion mark”, the email said. Twitter reported 237.8mn mDAUs, up nearly 17 per cent year-on-year, in the second quarter, its final earnings as a public company.

Musk on Monday wrote on the platform: “Twitter usage is at an all-time high lol. I just hope the servers don’t melt!”

It comes as Musk seeks to disprove concerns that users might have fled the platform following his takeover, despite pledges by several high-profile celebrities to move elsewhere and a rise in user numbers on the niche Twitter alternative Mastodon.

Musk faces a battle to persuade large brands such as General Motors, Mondelez, Carlsberg, United Airlines, Volkswagen and General Mills to resume advertising, with Twitter relying on adverts for the majority of its revenue.

The companies have suspended marketing over concerns that Musk, a self-described “free speech absolutist”, will weaken content moderation and get rid of permanent bans for violations.

Twitter also said in the email that brand advertisers “will now have an additional “Official” label beneath their name upon Twitter Blue’s relaunch this week [Wednesday],” according to Monday’s email.

It is rolling out a new version of its premium subscription service Twitter Blue for $7.99, which will allow users to pay for the “Blue Tick” verifications that are currently available only to companies, politicians, celebrities and journalists.

The Verge first reported the Twitter user growth data. Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Musk’s relationship with advertisers has become increasingly fraught during his first week running the company.

The billionaire, who also runs Tesla and SpaceX, had previously said that he would not change Twitter’s content policies until he had convened a new content moderation council with “widely diverse viewpoints”, and held calls early last week to reassure advertisers that the platform would not become a “free-for-all hellscape”.

On Friday, Musk claimed that Twitter “has had a massive drop in revenue, due to activist groups pressuring advertisers, even though nothing has changed with content moderation and we did everything we could to appease the activists”. 

He has tweeted a poll asking if advertisers should support free speech or political “correctness”, and threatened a “thermonuclear name & shame” of brands that had pulled advertising “if this continues”. 

Many advertising executives and brands have also been unnerved by Musk’s move to fire half the company’s employees, according to insiders, which have hit the trust and safety and advertising sales teams. Others pointed to the resignation last week of Sarah Personette, Twitter’s chief customer officer, who had been their main point of contact at the company.

Clients are “wary [and] watchful”, one advertising agency executive said, adding that many others are quietly pausing. “Threats do not endear you to advertisers,” another advertising executive said.

Additional reporting by Claire Bushey in Chicago

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