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Twitter keeps facing the same problems — so how is it going to fix them?

We came up with some big ideas to help Twitter out.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey onstage Kimberly White/Getty Images for Vanity Fair

It’s time to check in on Twitter again.

Twitter reports Q3 earnings on Thursday, and the company’s narrative hasn’t changed at all since the last time we heard from them. The storylines:

  • Twitter’s user growth will be key, especially after a quarter in which it didn’t grow at all. Analysts think Twitter added four million new users last quarter, though it’s unclear why that would be the case.
  • The company’s business is still shrinking. Twitter is expected to bring in around $587 million in revenue, down almost 5 percent from a year ago. It would be the third straight quarter of year-over-year revenue declines.
  • Twitter will likely highlight the growth of its daily active user audience versus its monthly active user audience (which, as we mentioned, isn’t really growing). That’s well and good, especially because Twitter’s DAU audience has been growing, but Twitter still won’t tell us how many daily users the company actually has, which makes the growth hard to appreciate.

Twitter is in a rut, and has been for years. Since Jack Dorsey’s return as CEO two years ago, the company has failed to take the kind of big swings needed to get things headed in the right direction.

It’s possible, though, that Twitter is finally ready to make some big moves. It’s shown a few signs of life. The company is trying to make it harder for users to abuse or harass others on the service, for example, and some of its new guidelines include harsher penalties for offenders, including permanent suspensions. Twitter is also finally testing longer tweets, an idea the company has had for years but just started shipping in September, and it has revamped its ad policies after learning Russian sources used social platforms to try and sway last fall’s U.S. election.

Maybe that theme will continue into Thursday’s earnings report. In the spirit of change, here are a few other big swings the company should take:

  • Twitter should announce Dorsey is leaving his other job as CEO of Square to work at Twitter full-time. Those close to Dorsey like to argue that his role as part-time CEO doesn’t impact his ability to run Twitter. But we’ll never know how true that is until he spends all of his time at one company.
  • Twitter should share its daily active user number. It would help put the company’s growth metrics into perspective. And if Twitter’s daily audience is really the group of users we should all be focusing on, Twitter should be more transparent about how big that group actually is.
  • Twitter should purge the service of bots. It’s no secret that Twitter is full of bot accounts, it’s just unknown how many bots there are. Some believe Twitter won’t eliminate bot accounts out of fear that it will decimate the company’s monthly user count. But if Twitter is serious about fixing abuse — and serious about fighting foreign influence on U.S. elections — removing all or most bots would be a great start.
  • Twitter should explain how well its live video push is going. Twitter has all kinds of live video shows in the works, and it has garnered some advertiser interest as a result. But it’s unclear if the push is actually doing anything to help Twitter’s numbers. Is live video boosting daily active user growth? Is it generating any new monthly active users? Are television advertisers coming to Twitter? We don’t really know. (Vox Media, the company that owns Recode, has partnered with Twitter for multiple live shows.)
  • Twitter should make an acquisition. Twitter hasn’t made an acquisition in 2017, and there’s no reason to spend money for the sake of spending money. But Twitter has a lot of problems, and it doesn’t seem to be fixing them on its own. It’s possible there is another company out there that could help.

These ideas aren’t new. But they are big. And they could finally provide Twitter with a different narrative. At least until next quarter.

Twitter reports Q3 earnings Thursday at 4 am PT, before the stock markets open. Analysts are looking for profits of 7 cents per share on revenue of $587 million for the quarter.

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