Twitter said on Thursday that it overstated its monthly user numbers since 2014 after accidentally including third-party application’s data in its count.
The revelation came when the company reported that its net loss had slowed in the third quarter and that the number of daily active users had risen by 14 per cent.
The disclosure, however, could further damage Twitter’s reputation as the company criticizes Russia’s role in its efforts to interfere in the presidential election and complains about what critics have called scattershot efforts to prevent abuse and harassment on its platform, and skepticism among some investors, who are concerned that global growth in users is falling.
At least initially investors were not particularly worried about the excessive number of users. Twitter shares rose 10 percent on Thursday in advance.
The company said it had discovered that its measurement of monthly active users had incorrectly included numbers from third-party applications that used Digits, a software development program. Digits is part of the Fabric Mobile Application Platform, which Twitter has sold this year to Alphabet, Google’s parent company.
Digits allowed third-party applications to send authentication messages through Twitter systems and did not reflect activity on the Twitter platform, the company said.
As a result, the company reduced the number of monthly active users by 2 million in the first and second quarters of this year and by 1 million in the fourth quarter of 2016. Twitter said his data retention policy did not allow him to reconcile the numbers. for periods prior to the fourth quarter of last year.
“Our estimates suggest the prior period adjustments are smaller than those in the fourth quarter of 2016,” the company said.
Twitter said that, in addition to the upward trend among daily active users, monthly users grew 4 percent to 330 million from the same period last year. The company had 326 million active users per month in the second quarter.
Twitter reported a net loss of $ 21.1 million for the quarter, compared to a loss of $ 102.9 million for the same period last year. The company’s revenue decreased 4 percent to $ 590 million.