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Twitter and the Trump Effect: Tracking the Mobile User Numbers

For the second quarter in a row, Twitter has reported a profit as user numbers continue to rise. In the first quarter of 2018, the social media site exceeded revenue expectations for a $61 million profit, compared to a $61.6 million loss a year ago.

At the same time, the company says it added 6 million users over the previous quarter—the largest increase in a year. The spike comes as President Donald Trump has used his account extensively this year to discuss everything from Syria to James Comey to China to Mike Pompeo’s meeting with Kim Jong-un in North Korea.

Trump formally announced his presidential candidacy on June 16, 2015. As we began to win primaries in early 2016 and his outspoken nature on Twitter (TWTR) became widely known, user numbers began to climb, with a big surge as the election drew close.

In the first quarter of 2016, Twitter had 310 million MAUs. By the fourth quarter of that year, the number had spiked to 318 million.

Trump won—and instantly made it clear he would be using Twitter as a vehicle to make announcements, which led to the largest recent jump in MAUs. By the end of the first quarter of 2017, the social media site had 327 million MAUs.

Things leveled off a bit as last year went on. The numbers fluctuated some, ending the year at 330 million MAUs. As of the end of March, they stood at 336 million. Since the end of ifs 2015 fiscal year, Twitter has added 31 million monthly active users.

Here’s a curious side note, though. It’s not Americans who are driving the surge. In the fourth quarter of 2016, Twitter reported 67 million MAUs from the U.S. That jumped to 69 million at the start of 2017—and the number remains there today. International users have jumped from 245 million to 267 million in the last two years.

It is, of course, possible that Twitter’s increase in users could be entirely unrelated to Trump. The site has been making efforts to become more user friendly and to prevent harassment some users have historically experienced. And Facebook’s growing public relations problems, from its use as an instrument to spread fake news to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, could be causing users to seek other social media experiences.

Investors, for their part, don’t much care about from where the growth is coming. The company’s stock jumped more than 3.5% in early trading Wednesday.