Messaging service Twitter finally turns a profit

Jack Dorsey

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. Associated Press

Twitter has made its first quarterly profit in the company's nearly 12-year history. It had a hard 2017 with a series of changes they brought to help it compete with other rival platforms for advertising dollars.

Stronger ad sales in the crucial holiday quarter made up the difference for Twitter, even as the number of new people joining the site continued to stagnate.

Recode adds to this that Twitter sources claim it's not just down to cuts, and that business growth is stronger than it first appears - because the 2% revenue growth would have been closer to 8% if you consider that some of the 2016 money came from the company's now-closed marketing platform Tellapart, which shut up shop early this year.

The company has continuously been pushing to diversify its sales beyond advertising.

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The company said revenue was helped by using data to make the targeting of ads more individualized, a process known as machine learning.

The microblogging website was previously unable to turn a profit in spite of ubiquitous presence of popular celebrities, athletes, and politicians. The failure to attract new users is something that has been a problem for Twitter for quite some time. "It remains to be seen whether Zuckerberg's belief that less time on social media will result in a higher quality of engagement, there's certainly an argument for it, but for now brands are clearly happy with Twitter's accomplishments in video and live broadcast and see a growing role for the platform in campaigns".

Monthly active users in the United States were down to 68 million from 69 million in the third quarter.

Twitter, which has posted consistent losses since it became a public company in 2013, said it expected to be profitable for the full year of 2018 as well. Both Twitter and Facebook have stepped up efforts to crack down on "bots" and other efforts to manipulate their platforms to deflect criticism from lawmakers and others concerned about the spread of disinformation. Thanks to a slow crackdown on abuse and purging of fake accounts and bots, Twitter's seen growth completely stall overall, with a significant decline in US users. The number of people who use Twitter daily increased by about 12 percent from the same time previous year. The young users are still mostly interested in Snapchat and Instagram instead. "We are committed to making Twitter safer, and we are clarifying our policies, improving our enforcement, and communicating more clearly", the company said in a tweet.

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