There was a strange moment during Twitter’s fourth-quarter earnings call when the company’s chief financial officer, Anthony Noto, was trying to explain how the network lost 4 million monthly active users in the quarter. Noto off-handedly attributed the loss to trouble with iOS 8’s rollout, specifically Twitter integration with Safari, before quickly turning to other metrics.
It didn’t make much sense. How would Safari cause Twitter's monthly active user count to drop so sharply? (For comparison, Twitter also added 4 million users in the quarter.)
Twitter CEO Dick Costolo attempted to clarify Noto’s comments, saying there “was an unforeseen bug in the release of iOS 8 as it relates to Twitter integration with iOS.” Again…what?
There were actually two separate iOS 8 issues, neither of them the fault of Apple. Twitter lost 3 million people it had previously categorized as monthly active users despite the fact that they weren’t actually using Twitter—these users had connected their Twitter accounts to Safari and allowed the browser to automatically pull tweets into Shared Links. iOS 8 eliminated that auto-polling. An additional million users were unable to log back into their Twitter accounts after upgrading to iOS 8 due to an encryption issue on Twitter’s end, Costolo told Business Insider. Noto said that number was higher than 1 million originally, but the network has been able to fix the encryption issues and win back many of those users. But the 3 million people counted as active users despite never really visiting Twitter? Those are gone.
“We have a great relationship with Apple,” Costolo was quick to add during the earnings call. But earlier today, Twitter’s Investor Relations team reiterated:
To clarify from yesterday's call: there was no bug or issue with iOS 8. It is an issue on Twitter's side as users upgraded.— TwitterIR (@TwitterIR) February 6, 2015
That settles that.