More than 32 million Twitter users are forecast to ditch the social media platform within the next two years as they become “frustrated” by technical matters and the rise in post they deem offensive.

This is according to Insider Intelligence, a market research agency that has tracked San Francisco-based Twitter since 2008, which clearly thinks the decisions taken by owner Elon Musk will come home to roost, both in terms of the audience and advertising revenues.

Global monthly users are forecast to fall 3.9 percent in 2023 and 5.1 percent the following year, marking the first annual declines in the numbers of people that Twitter attracts.

“There won’t be one catastrophic event that ends Twitter,” said Jasmine Enberg, principal analyst at Insider Intelligence in a statement accompanying the research.

“Users will start to leave the platform next year as they grow frustrated with technical issues and the proliferation of hateful or other unsavory content,” she added.

This is based on the analysis of survey and traffic data from research firms and regulatory agencies, as well as Twitter releases and historical company data.

Since Musk took charge in October, he has expunged the CEO, CFO and head of legal counsel, along with thousands of other employees including software engineers, content moderators, and more. He also issued an ultimatum to those that stayed. Musk’s rationale seems to be that Twitter was losing $4 million a day and needed to reduce overheads.

“Twitter’s skeleton staff, working around the clock, won’t be able to counteract the platform’s infrastructure and content moderations problems,” Enberg added.

No such major events have tested that theory, but others are pretty fearful that the cost of making so many rapid changes to the people on the payroll will be collected at some point. This remains speculation.

Insider Intelligence estimates that Twitter will see the most users quit in the US, dropping 8.2 million by the end of 2024 to 50.5 million, due to the platform becoming “more unstable and less pleasant.” In Britain, 1.6 million users will split, it claims, leaving 12.6 million still on board.

The research indicates the under 35s and over 45s will include the biggest numbers of departures as they aren’t as loyal or willing to put up with a potentially degraded experience on Twitter.

This is rather different from the projections Musk made late last month that Twitter will have one billion users inside 18 months.

Beyond the user numbers, Twitter will find it hard to grow ad revenues, Insider Intelligence said. The agency has slashed projections for ad growth in 2023 and 2024, and now anticipates them to be flat. In March it had expected double digit increases for those years.

A bunch of advertisers have already paused ad spending after Musk’s declaration for free speech led to more hateful content appearing on the site, some of which gave brands including Coca-Cola, Volkswagen and more food for thought.

Insider Intelligence said Musk’s attention will be on “kickstarting Twitter’s revenue engine” next year after “losing many of its biggest advertisers and a long tail of other advertisers who have been quietly quitting the platform.”

Of course Musk may have found a replacement CEO for Twitter in the not-too-distant future, having indicated previously this was his intention, without putting a date on that process. However, he’ll still be the owner and he’ll still be tweeting.

Musk has forever changed certain industries, yet at this stage of proceedings he’s not blazing quite the same trail at Twitter, at least not for the right reasons.

Despite the tone of its research, Insider Intelligence’s Enberg said: “It’s not time to write Twitter’s obituary yet.” The researcher added: “Our forecast reflects the current volatile conditions at the company, there’s a possibility users will flock back – if the app can figure out its tech and content moderation.” ®

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