April 1, 2011 at 9:35 AM ET
According to Twitter's "about" page, the micro-blogging service has 175 million registered users. Notice the keyword? Registered users. How many of the people who signed up for a Twitter account are actually actively using the service?
Business Insider reports that someone with full access to the Twitter application programing interface (API) helped answer that question — as best as he could, anyway.
At some point the unnamed individual had an engineer create a code which would analyze Twitter user follower (and following) statistics and realized that the resulting data set was a bit peculiar:
Using data that is now just one month old, he found out that…
With these figures, and Twitter's claim of 175 million accounts, a little subtraction shows us that there are 56 million Twitter accounts following zero other accounts, and 90 million Twitter accounts with zero followers.
It seems difficult to imagine that all of those registered users who do not follow anyone (or aren't followed by anyone) are active. Sure, there are some active celebrities who have huge followings while not following anyone, but those are few and far between.
With that thought in mind, Business Insider asked us to consider a factoid:
At Facebook, a company source tells us, they believe that a user is not going to end up sticking around unless they make friends with 10 people.
Knowing that, let's jump back to the data Business Insider's source provided:
Our source's API data shows that there are 56 million accounts on Twitter following 8 or more accounts. There are only 38 million following 16, and just 12 million following 64.
We're not sure why no one crunched the numbers for the users following specifically ten accounts or more, but at the very least, the numbers above give us a reasonable impression of just how many Twitter users could be considered "active."
If you're trying to put all this data into perspective, compare it to the statistics Facebook openly reveals. The social networking site says that about 600 million people visit it each month, and that about half come back every day.