Whereas Facebook’s strategy has always been to keep users within its own ecosystem, Twitter content is scattered all over the place, and this makes it difficult for the company to provide an accurate measurement of its userbase. Somewhere around 300 million people use Twitter actively, which is significantly smaller than Facebook’s 1.5 billion active userbase, but that doesn’t account for people viewing Twitter content from somewhere that isn’t Twitter, which is a massive amount of people. According to Twitter CFO Anthony Noto, measuring Twitter’s actual audience would likely put the company on a level that’s comparable to or even exceeds Facebook.
With nearly 1.5 billion users, Facebook’s audience appears to be about five times the size of Twitter’s, which was last reported as 304 million active users during the company’s Q2 earnings call earlier this year. But Twitter CFO Anthony Noto doesn’t think it’s quite that simple. At the Deutsche Bank tech conference this week, Noto said that Twitter’s reach is actually far greater than user numbers suggest—potentially even bigger than that of Facebook. Here’s why, as per Noto’s comments on Wednesday: “I often get the question from friends [who] are like, “You know Facebook has over a billion users,” and I’m like, “Well, we have an audience, depending on how you measure it, that’s pretty comparable.” But they only have that audience, they only have the 1.4 billion they report, there’s no other number. We have other audience numbers that no one talks about and when you add those up it’s a big number, in fact in some scenarios you could argue that it’s bigger.” Noto makes a valid point. Facebook’s entire growth strategy is centered around the idea of keeping people within the Facebook ecosystem—thus the introduction of features like Instant Articles, through which the social network can directly host articles from major publishers.