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Musk’s X-periment isn’t going as well as he says it is

  • Internal figures seen by the Financial Times suggest X only has 251 million daily active users, a 1.6 percent increase from 2023.
  • Many point to Threads as the reason for this stagnant growth.
  • However, Musk’s tenure at the helm has been controversial and has likely pushed users away from the platform.

Should one choose to believe X owner Elon Musk, the payment/video/long-form content/livestreaming/haven for the worst of the worst platform is doing rather well. Just this week the billionaire tried to convince us that X is the number one news app on an App Store while also trying to pretend he didn’t try to back out of buying the platform. Very cool.

However, as much as the billionaire wants to convince us that X is doing very well and new users are flocking to the platform and enjoying “unregretted user minutes”, user numbers tell a different story.

As reported by the Financial Times via The Register, X now averages 251 million users a day. This is up from 247 million in 2023, but a 1.6 percent increase isn’t all that impressive for a platform as old as Twitter was before it became X. In fact, BM (Before Musk) Twitter was reporting a 15 percent user increase consistently with 2020 seeing a 35 percent increase in users.

Why is X not seeing the same growth? Well, have you seen the platform lately?

We’ll get to Musk himself in a minute because he has definitely tainted the platform, but really, pointing to one reason is tough.

Twitter has always been a divisive platform and many compared it to a trash-fire long before Musk considered buying it. With little to no filters, the ability to post basically anonymously and little barrier to entry, Twitter is an unfiltered stream of humanity’s thoughts, which is both good and bad. In the years since Musk took over the trashfire became a wild-fire.

These days one can’t scroll X for a minute without seeing the horrors of the world, raw and unfiltered. Content promoting racism, homophobia, neo-Nazis, antisemitism, and conspiracies has found a comfortable home on X where content is only deleted if it violates laws.

Even then, if your account is banned for posting child sexual abuse material, one can simply rally your supporters and get Musk to personally reinstate the account. Just this week the US Justice Department revealed that it had dismantled a bot farm on X with over 1 000 accounts pushing Russian propaganda.

And then of course there are the follies of Mr Musk. The owner stripped away verification making it pay to play, devaluing the significance of verification on the platform. Access to Twitter’s API was put behind a gargantuan paywall effectively blocking developers who operated third-party apps for Twitter. The API paywall also blocked researchers who helped police the platform and uncover influence campaigns among other things.

It also doesn’t help that Musk is incredibly unlikeable given that he embraces fringe conspiracies, attacks anybody who dare question him and his habit of unbanning accounts that should remain banned.

All of this and lots, lots more has lead to folks just leaving X because it doesn’t serve them anymore. Sure there are new users coming but how many of those are real people and how many are bots telling us to visit their bio for spicey content? Even the content posted by humans has become irksome with accounts farming engagement in hopes of increasing the amount of ad-revenue share they receive.

Many point to Threads as being a more attractive alternative to X and that’s stealing its users, but we disagree. The platform makes it tough to follow breaking news stories thanks to a lack of hashtags that one can click or tap to see other related posts. Instagram head, Adam Mosseri also tends to leave news and current affairs out of any description of Threads.

In fact, if any platform is stealing X’s pie, it’s TikTok. The short video sharing app is becoming a popular source for news among US users and unless the US government goes ahead with plans to ban the app from its shores, the user base is only going to continue to grow.

How X gets out of the stagnant growth phase it now finds itself in is unclear but we’re sure Musk is going to cook up some hair-brained scheme that he thinks will work.

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