Twitter Is Filled With Zombie Accounts, Says New Pew Study


6% of adults in the United States use Twitter, according to a new study from the Pew Research centre.

That’s very impressive. But it’s not nearly as impressive as the Twitter stats the company likes to quote.

6% of U.S. adults comes out to fewer than 15 million people. Twitter recently announced that it already has 175 million users, 65 million of them in the U.S.

Unless 50 million American teenagers (Pew didn’t count them) are on Twitter, there’s a huge discrepancy there.

The problem is that when Twitter talks about how many users it has, it uses the total number of accounts it has signed up. That means everyone who tried the service and quit, everyone who has signed up for more than one account, and every account run by a bot is included in the total.

Of course, Pew’s numbers probably aren’t perfect either. But the massive discrepancy between the two numbers is a reminder that the bigger and older Twitter gets, the less meaningful the signups stat becomes.

When a brand new startup uses signups to claim it has reached 1 million users, it’s using a somewhat flattering estimate. When a 5 year-old service filled with bots and news wires uses signups to say it has 175 million users, it’s being ridiculous.

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