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The Truth About the Number of Active Twitter Users

Toward the bottom of Twitter’s about page, they claim that as of September 2010, the service has 175 million users. That sounds like a bunch, right? Well, what Twitter doesn’t tell you is that 175 million number actually represents the number of registered accounts, which technically do not have to be active in order to exist. According to Business Insider, they know someone with “full access to Twitter’s API,” who was then able to get an engineer to write code to produce figures for the “real” (active) number of users on Twitter.

Using data that is currently only one month old, the source found that there are 119 million Twitter accounts following at least one account and there are 85 million accounts with at least one follower. With these numbers, Twitter’s 175 million figure, and a bit of math, one can see that there are 56 million accounts that aren’t following any other accounts and 90 million accounts without any followers. Using another “source” over at Facebook who said that a Facebook user doesn’t end up using the service unless they make ten or more friends, Business Insider attempts to put a definition on what constitutes an “active” account, and provides a few numbers: 56 million Twitter accounts follow at least eight other accounts, while only 38 million accounts are following 16, and only 12 million accounts following 64 accounts.

That a company would use the biggest number available that isn’t totally indicative of their active users isn’t surprising, as it’s a common trend among things such as video game sales data, where companies frequently used “units shipped” rather than “units sold,” and even free-to-play MMOs, where the developers use the same tactic Twitter uses, in that they release the total number of accounts, rather than people who actually log in and play.

(via Business Insider)

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