How Many Users Does Twitter Have?

By Daniel Scocco

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Twitter is without a doubt one of, if not the fastest growing web application that we have seen. Just one year ago very few people were using or talking about it, and now it is all over the place, with mainstream celebrities joining it every day.

But how big is Twitter? How many user accounts are there?

That is a question that many have been asking, with no official answer yet.

One way that we have to estimate that number is based on the unique user ID that each account has. You can see that number by browsing over the URL of the RSS feed of a specific account.

Here is a screenshot of an account I created a couple of minutes ago:

twitter accounts

Could we say that Twitter has 25 million accounts? Probably not, because that would mean that the user IDs are being assigned sequentially, which might not be the case.

But there is certainly a pattern on the user ID numbers.

Right after taking the screenshot I created three more accounts, and their respective user IDs were: 25,272,447, 25,272,534 and 25,272,591.

Each account was created around 10 seconds after the other, and as you can see by the numbers, between them we had 87 and 57 different IDs.

Were those 87 and 57 ID numbers new accounts being created by other users? Again we can’t say for sure. It all depends on how Twitter is handling the user ID assignment internally.

Here is a quote quote that I found from a person who analyzed the pattern:

I took some samples of the public timeline about a year ago and examined the unique user IDs. Although the pattern of ID assignment changes, in the early days at least Twitter would alternate between from sequential to non-sequential, with the latter being in increments of 10.

So the first 13,753 were sequential, followed by a run up to 754363 where they likely incremented by 10s. At 754439 they again went to sequential until 824222, and at 824331 through 5281761 again incremented by 10s (last digit ending in 1). In my dataset from that period – which is not inclusive of all accounts – showed increments by 10s with the last digit ending in 2.

I strongly suspect that a respectable estimate would be to simply divide the maximum ID by 10.

According to that person, therefore, Twitter is using a mix of sequential and deca increments on the user IDs. He suggests dividing the total number of accounts by 10 to find an estimate. That would translate to around 2.5 million Twitter users as of today.

I think that perhaps dividing the total by number by 5 could yield a better estimate, putting the mark at 5 million users.

Do you think that number is about right? Do you have other information that we can use to refine that estimation?



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23 Responses to “How Many Users Does Twitter Have?”

  • Andrew J Scott

    Well, the official figure banded around recently was 6 million; so circa 5 million seems a fair number. Which means 0.000106% of the Twittersphere follows me…lol

    Andrew
    Rummble.com – makes it easy to stuff nearby you like.

  • Jonathan Nelson

    Nice analysis.

    What you can also do is run a quick Google query with some appropriate parameters: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&client=safari&rls=en-us&q=site%3Atwitter.com+-inurl%3Astatus&btnG=Search

    This yields around 19 million results.

  • Gary Arndt

    If you look at the followers of the people who have been put on the suggested list, it appears as if there are tens, if not hundreds of thousands of empty twitter accounts.

    These are accounts with no URL, no photo, no messages, no followers, and not following anyone other than 20 suggested people.

  • F. Seidl

    Another possibility to consider is that IDs are also assigned to objects other than user accounts.

  • The Math Guy

    Just being nitpicky, but there were only 86 and 56 IDs between your account creations. Let’s say you got #88 and then #91. According to your logic, there would be three accounts created between yours, but really, there are just two — #89 and #90.

  • Chung Bey Luen

    5 millions is not that big enough compared to other social networking site. Twitter has more works to do, :p

  • Gargi Nath

    Nice interpretation. We may not be sure of the exact figure but we surely know of its popularity so lion’s share of the net savvy peoples are here.

  • Mayooresan

    CAn you think of our local mobile companies???

    Many people have 2 or 3 mobile connections from several providers but each of them claim them as their own active user. Just like this twitter is full of spam users. Some times you’ll see users following you in a pattern (similar user name or screen name).

    It can’t be 25 Million but can we call it 5M?? are you undermining it???

  • joe comp

    its a good analysis.i never think to far like you.thank you for telling us here

  • Mohamed Beshr

    very good info.about twitter
    thanks

  • Jen

    Interesting analysis. It just seems that there are a whole lot of people following a few. Not sure of the utility other than self-promotion.

  • RMVX Guy

    @#1 – Interesting. Wouldn’t have thought they even had that much. Twitter sure is popular these days

  • Aravind Jose T.

    Twitter is everywhere now. Yay.

    Jason Calacanis of Mahalo, in his latest email, offers $500,000 to feature his @questions account among list of the suggested users that is shown after sign up.

    He says “Being on this page gets you 5-10k followers per day”. Now, that’s really something. If only, 50% of the ones who register, follow these suggested users, without skipping the step, the actual number of daily new sign ups amount to about 20k-30k!

    Take the average to be 25k. Then, in one month, 750,000 new users !

  • Sachin

    I believe that its user base will surpass that of digg in coming months…

  • Ben

    boy the way I have been reading about it, I would not have blinked if you had estimated 25 million, but now sitting down and reading your post and thinking about it a little I’ll bet 5m is a lot closer.

    Ben

  • Herman

    I am really behind the power curb regarding twitter. I need to get my butt in gear and jump on the twitter band wagon

  • @Ray1961

    Nielsen has published yesterday, or Friday, an increase of > 1300% YoY with 7m visitors in the last month. So here you go … Ray

  • Nicole

    And people tease ME about complicating things. You could just contact them and ask 🙂

  • medyum

    Many people have 2 or 3 mobile connections from several providers but each of them claim them as their own active user. Just like this twitter is full of spam users. Some times you’ll see users following you in a pattern (similar user name or screen name).

  • Jessica

    You can’t just contact them an ask the reason there has been no official announcement is that Twitter refuse to comment on the number of users as of yet!

  • Monique Blue

    Considering that Ashton Kutcher has 4,669,976 by himself I would think that that estimate is still off (5 million or 6 million) Because everyone on Twitter could not possibly be choosing to follow him.

  • Joe Ndzulo

    According to its Co-Founder Biz Stone, Twitter has 105,779,710 users well beyond imagination. The question is howmany of them are “active” users.

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