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Masterful Gambit

Whatever you think of X-formerly-Twitter more than a year after Elon Musk's takeover — whether, perhaps, you think inescapable porn bot spam and paid-for blue check reply guys are worth enduring — the numbers don't lie. A mix of new data shows that the number of daily X users has been falling dramatically, NBC reports, as the chaotic social network struggles to stabilize.

According to research from market analysis firm Sensor Tower, X had 27 million active daily app users — defined as someone who "registered a session of at least two seconds in length, once in that day" — in the US this February, which is a staggering 18 percent down from a year before.

And if you start from November 2022, the first full month of Musk's leadership, that figure plunges further down to 23 percent.

It looks even worse compared to its competitors. Out of Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat — all of which have had a net decline in US app users since that November — TikTok had the largest at 9.5 percent, which still isn't even half of what X has lost.

Lousy Leadership

There's no shortage of explanations for the dropoff. Upon taking control, Musk began carrying out layoffs that would eventually see over half of X's workforce cut down, including key engineers. Since then, the site's functionality has noticeably declined.

He's also implemented controversial changes to some of its key features, such as ditching its old verified program in favor of allowing users to pay for a checkmark instead, cheapening a symbol that had long been a badge of authenticity and immediately leading to a flood of public figures being impersonated.

Not least of all, Musk's personal presence on the platform has been repulsive to both users and advertisers. With a dubious commitment to free speech, the platform has seen an uptick in hate speech since his takeover, fueled by its owner's penchant for racist, anti-semitic, and "anti-woke" rants.

Number Fumble

Still, figures shared by X paint a healthier picture. On Monday, it claimed that 250 million people were using its app daily across the globe, which NBC notes is still 8 million less than what was claimed at the start of Musk's takeover. Monthly, it claims to boast a tally of 550 million.

Some would argue that those numbers don't add up. Notably, X doesn't explain how it counts active users, NBC notes. It also claims that 1.7 million users join X every day — but according to research firm Apptopia, that's triple the amount of daily downloads of the app globally.

There's still some wiggle room to be had with the exact numbers, it seems — but anecdotally, the mass of exodus of users from the platform is hard to argue against, so the real question seems to be whether it's recouping those losses with new or returning users. If the research firms are to be believed, the answer seems to be a firm "no."

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