At today's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing focused on children's online safety, X CEO Linda Yacarino downplayed the social network's reach among young users, noting that less than 1% of the app's US users are 13- to 17-year-olds. Put the number in context by also sharing that there are 90 million X users in the US – a drop from the 95.4 million expected users reported as of January 2023, according to data from Statistica.
When Elon Musk bought Twitter, which was rebranded as X, the US was its biggest market, ahead of Japan, India, Brazil and other countries. Speaking at an event last fall, Musk claimed the network had grown to 550 million monthly active users, though it was unclear whether his calculations included fake accounts such as bots and spammers.
While Musk didn't break down X usage by market, at the time, Yacarino indicated that X's user base was growing overall last month, By December 7, 2023, More than 10 million people have already signed up for X in a month.
But the figures she shared with the US Senate today suggest that, assuming 2023 market projections are accurate, X in the US could see a slight decline for the year. (Statistica says they're based on addressable ad audiences and reports the data provided.) The decline coincides with market expectations, with a Pew Research study published in July 2023 showing that a quarter of Twitter users said they were unlikely to stay on the site. Over a period of one year. Although Twitter, now X, is stickier than first thought, it faces several new competitors, including decentralized network Mastodon, Bluesky, and Instagram Threads. Axios reported in October that third-party data indicated that usage of the X declined in the first year of Musk's ownership.
X has been criticized for failing to take adequate measures to prevent CSAM (child sex abuse material) on its platform in markets including the EU and Australia; CSAM was sued by victims; And last year CSAM unblocked a user account that posted the images, the company largely avoided deeper questions about its plans to confront CSAM at today's hearing. Lawmakers didn't even mention the recent Taylor Swift deepfake porn debacle, even as news reached the White House.
Yaccarino distanced the company from its predecessor, Twitter, by calling X a “14-month-old company” that “prioritised child protection and safety measures,” in addition to narrowing X's reach among teenagers. X “started talking and discussing how we can improve them (measurements) with parental controls,” she added.
Time out with the hearing, the company Shared as suspended 12.4 million user accounts in 2023 for violating its CSE (child sexual exploitation) policies, 2.3 million accounts deleted by Twitter in 2022. It also sent over 850,000 reports to NCMEC (National Center for Missing & Exploited Children). Prior to Musk's purchase.
Those statistics, of course, can be viewed in different ways – whether X has increased enforcement as people want to believe, or CSAM-related activity on X has increased and the number of reports has followed.
During the hearing, Yaccarino answered a question about how many content moderators were on staff by saying X had 2,300 people “around the world.” It is more than X number of employees. (After Musk took over, 80% of the 7,500-person workforce, including the trust and safety team, was laid off or left.) X recently said it plans to back up its trust and safety teams by hiring 100 people full-time. Moderators in Austin, Texas.
X was asked to clarify her statements.