Of Twitter’s 284 million users, 24 million are just machines — apps or pieces of software — that ping Twitter’s platform automatically “with no discernable user action involved,” according to the company’s disclosures to the SEC.
The fact that 8.5% of Twitter’s “users” are not actually doing anything on the platform might be a problem. Business Insider has reported before that as many as 741 million people have opened a Twitter account and then abandoned it, and that a majority of Twitter users don’t tweet in any given month. Twitter’s stock price has been driven down to around $38 from a high of $55 in October last year in large part because its user growth hasn’t been that strong, especially in comparison to Facebook.
Twitter doesn’t see it that way of course. “These are real users who created Twitter accounts with real usernames and passwords, receiving Twitter content through third-party applications,” a spokesperson tells us.
Twitter actually wants to build an ecosystem of people who plug their apps into Twitter. It makes Twitter more useful to everybody. And users who engage with Twitter via social media dashboards like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite are — in theory — heavier users of Twitter than those who tweet directly from the app.
In fact, 11.5% of all Twitter users connect to Twitter from third-party apps or software, the company says.
The Twitter spokesperson gave us this example: “HTC phones come with software called Blinkfeed that pulls social content from a variety of sources and presents it in one central spot via an app and widget. The user, though, first has to authenticate these services to pull from these feeds automatically.”
But within that 11.5% are the 24 million — 8.5% — who, having connected, don’t do anything except, at best, passively receive info.
Back in 2013, Twitter said that it expected the proportion of users it counted via apps that passively pinged the platform would decline over time. But the population of people who do “no discernable user action” on Twitter grew instead. Here’s a chart, in millions, of their presence since Twitter first filed to go public, according to Twitter’s SEC forms: