Twitter makes money for first time ever

NEW YORK — Twitter made money for the first time in its nearly 12-year history, a milestone that satisfied investors in the short term but might not resolve the company’s broader problems any time soon.

The company is still struggling to get people to sign up, despite the attention President Donald Trump’s no-holds barred tweets have drawn to the service. One problem: Anyone can read tweets without signing up. As a result, Twitter’s user base pales compared with Facebook and the Facebook-owned Instagram.

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And that means fewer advertising opportunities.

Beyond that, Twitter has been dealing with policing hate speech and abusive comments, fake accounts and attempts by Russian agents to spread misinformation. Every time Twitter tries to respond to a problem, it’s either not good enough, or some other problem emerges.

“They are playing whack-a-mole with these problems,” said Michael Connor, whose Open Mic group helps investors push tech companies to address privacy, abuse and other issues. “They say they have the problem under control, but they don’t know what the problem is exactly.”

Add to that a revolving door of executives, including an influential chief operating officer leaving after Thursday’s earnings report.

Twitter said it had an average of 330 million monthly active users in the final three months of last year, unchanged from the previous quarter and below Wall Street’s estimate of 333 million. By contrast, Facebook has 2.2 billion and Instagram has more than 800 million.

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Twitter hadn’t turned a profit until now because it didn’t attract enough advertising revenue to make up for its expenses.

But it’s been cutting costs and focusing on new revenue streams, such as live video.