Twitter was often in the news in the fourth quarter of 2020, especially in relation to the presidential election. The social network began placing warnings on false tweets about the election, including from the account of then-President Donald Trump, and even temporality changed how the retweet button works.
The quarter was a strong one for Twitter financially. The company posted revenue of $1.29 billion, a 28 percent jump from the same time the year before, as the company posted GAAP operating income of $252 million. The company’s Monetizable Daily Active Usage (mDAU) metric showed a 27 percent increase as well.
The majority of the company’s revenue, $1.15 billion, came from Twitter’s advertising business, a 31 percent jump. “This was mostly driven by strong brand advertiser demand in the U.S. for most of the quarter,” the company said. Twitter beat analyst expectations in the quarter, according to CNBC.
The company addressed the labels and warnings in its investor letter.
“We offered additional context on potentially misleading information in Q4 with a specific focus on Tweets about COVID-19, synthetic and manipulated media, and the 2020 U.S. election,” the company said in the letter.
“For the U.S. election, we applied labels, warnings, and additional restrictions on Tweets that included potentially misleading information from October 27 to November 11, and we attempted to get ahead of potentially misleading information by showing everyone on Twitter in the U.S. a series of prebunk prompts, reminding people that election results were likely to be delayed, and that voting by mail is safe and legitimate. These efforts were highly effective at providing additional context around potentially misleading information and we will continue to apply labels to add context in the future and to limit the risk of harmful misinformation spreading without important context.”
The network did indeed ban Trump, following the Capitol riot on January 6, although this wasn’t until after the end of the fourth quarter. The company’s stock slid for a few days following the decision to permanently remove the account of the then-president.
But the stock has since climbed significantly. Following Trump’s banishment, Twitter’s stock was trading at $45.97 a share. But after a surge throughout January and early February, the company reached $60 earlier Tuesday, before closing at $59.88 Tuesday.
The company said that it expects to grow its headcount in the coming year, while also seeing an increase in expenses.
Reports earlier this week, per Bloomberg News, had stated that Twitter was considering instituting a tipping system, and requiring subscriptions for some services, including Tweetdeck. A Twitter executive told Bloomberg that no official decisions had been made.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.