The Twitter logo / Bethany Clarke/Getty Images

Social network has been criticised for slow growth in active users

A change in Apple’s iOS 8 lost Twitter millions of users, the social network has claimed.

Twitter has been fighting to keep growing its base of monthly active users. And with the figure lower than expected in Twitter’s results last night, Twitter tried to pin some of the blame on Apple’s update to its operating system for iPhones and iPads.

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo said that the site had lost four million active users because of an “unforeseen bug in iOS 8 as it relates to Twitter integration into the OS”. While Twitter’s user base is much bigger than that — with about 288 million users — the four million lost is about half the number of new ones that were added in the last quarter.

Three million of those lost are thought to relate to a change in Safari’s Shared Links feature, which shows a stream of websites that have been tweeted by people that the user follows on Twitter.

The feature used to ask Twitter for new tweets automatically. But now Safari only asks for the tweets when users open up the Shared Links window, so if people don’t use the feature they’ll drop off Twitter’s growth numbers.

The other million lost users were “Twitter-owned”, according to Twitter’s executives who didn’t elaborate further on what had changed. It is thought that those relate to users who updated to the new operating system but forgot their password or didn’t go back to Twitter.

While the smaller than expected growth in monthly active users disappointed investors, Twitter’s surprisingly high revenue numbers helped offset them and the shares were up more than 10 per cent.