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Twitter Blames iOS 8 Bugs for Slow User Growth

by Jacob Kleinman | February 6, 2015February 6, 2015 12:00 pm PDT

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Twitter‘s user base still isn’t growing as quickly as its investors would like but, during its earnings call Thursday evening, the company offered up a pretty interesting excuse. The social network claims that a bug with Apple’s iOS 8 software cost Twitter roughly 4 million users in Q4 2014.

It sounds like a lame explanation, but in a follow-up explanation with Business Insider, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo makes a pretty solid argument. It turns out there were two main issues with iOS 8, which stopped Twitter from reaching some people or simply blocked users from logging in.

The bigger problem had to do with a Shared Links feature introduced in iOS 7, which was built into Apple’s mobile Safari browser. Basically, it served up a list of recent articles and links tweeted by people you’re connected to, automatically updating even if you didn’t check Twitter directly. When iOS 8 came out, Apple stopped checking Twitter on its own, meaning you have to open the app for yourself. As a result, the social network lost roughly 3 million monthly users it had previously counted.

Additionally, Costolo says an encryption issue with iOS 8 blocked another 1 million people from accessing their accounts, though Apple’s has reportedly fixed the problem already. Of course, it’s possible some frustrated users simply gave up and never came back.

Overall, it sounds like Twitter mostly lost users that weren’t really using Twitter to begin with. The company currently claims 288 million monthly active users, falling short of Wall Street expectations by 7 million users. It wasn’t all bad news though, as the social network managed to boost its revenue by 97 percent compared to last year, raking in $479 million in its most recent quarter.

Jacob Kleinman

Jacob Kleinman has been working as a journalist online and in print since he arrived at Wesleyan University in 2007. After graduating, he took a...