Twitter questioned by SEC on user stats

Twitter questioned by SEC on user stats

The Securities and Exchange Commission earlier this year asked Twitter about its decision to stop reporting "timeline views", a longtime metric to measure user engagement, according to documents released on Monday.

Twitter decided in April to stop reporting timeline views — the number of visits, timeline refreshes and searches on the site — because it says that changes in its offerings rendered the metric unnecessary.

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The SEC asked then-CEO Dick Costolo whether the company would publicly release new ways to measure engagement with the service in an April letter released Monday and reported by The Wall Street Journal.

“Please describe the alternative metric(s) you anticipate presenting in future filings to explain trends in user engagement and advertising services revenue,” the agency asked. “Also, please describe your reasons for choosing such metric(s).”

It also asked the company to provide data for how the number of advertisers on the platform and average revenue per advertiser broke down by “channel and geography.” The agency said that providing that information to the public could “prove informative to investors if you consider them to be material to investors’ understanding of those key factors impacting current and prospective levels of advertising services revenue."

Twitter responded in May by noting that a new filing included numbers related to how users responded to ad products and the price that ad buyers paid for those actions. The Journal reported that the SEC stopped pursuing the issue after the company’s response.

The scrutiny of the social network comes as it looks to grow its reach. The service, though popular in Washington's political and media circles, lacks the massive user base of Facebook.

Costolo stepped down earlier this year and has yet to be replaced on a permanent basis.