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What will it really cost to clean up Twitter?

The social company is trying to clean up its act, but how much is it spending and will it cost Twitter any users?

Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Twitter is in the midst of a long-overdue cleanup effort.

The social company is banning more “fake” accounts than ever before — almost 10 million per week. It cut people’s follower counts (gasp!), and this year has suspended hundreds of thousands of developer apps that were posting spammy tweets. The company even claims that its artificial intelligence algorithms are doing a better job of hiding controversial conversations. Fewer people are complaining, Twitter claims.

But everything has a price, and while it’s hard to find any fault in Twitter’s efforts — most Twitter users would readily applaud even more of them — they lead to an interesting question: How much will it cost to clean up Twitter?

As we learned on Wednesday from Facebook’s disastrous earnings report, spending to clean up a mess can be expensive. Twitter hasn’t talked much about the financial cost of its cleanup efforts, although it would certainly make sense to do so on Friday morning when the company reports Q2 earnings. Facebook has been vocal that its efforts around abuse and security will cut into profits.

Will the same happen at Twitter?

Outside of dollars and cents, there are other ways to measure that cost.

To start, Twitter’s cleanup is probably coming at the cost of user growth. Twitter’s increase in banning accounts could mean that it doesn’t grow the way people expect, or may even see its total user base shrink, according to The Washington Post.

Growth for the sake of growth isn’t very interesting. Who cares if Twitter adds users if a lot of them are simply bots, right? But Twitter also had positive user growth through the first three months of the year, and following up on that momentum with a bummer growth quarter won’t look great, even if it’s for a good reason.

Twitter’s cleanup efforts also seem to be taking time and resources away from other projects. The social communications company hasn’t launched a significant new product feature in ... a long time.

At least not anything we can see, although there have been changes to the ranking algorithm. CEO Jack Dorsey has said continuously that Twitter’s focus on improving the “health” of the service would take resources and priority, and most of the new stuff Twitter has rolled out this year seems to be geared toward this mission.

Again, rolling out new features for the sake of new features isn’t interesting. It doesn’t matter much what Twitter does if people are still being bombarded by trolls and spammers. But other companies like Facebook and Snapchat are moving forward while Twitter cleans itself up. Facebook in particular has been vocal about the need to innovate while making important safety and security changes.

Right now, Twitter feels like it’s doing one without the other.

The company reports earnings on Friday morning.

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