As a brand, Twitter understood something had to be done to stop bad actors from using its platform to sew discord and promote violence. So, the company set some specific boundaries. Then it took the more drastic step of banning certain provocative accounts blamed for propagating “fake news” and “conspiracy theories.”

The company knew there would be consequences for these actions, but they did not anticipate such a steep decline. Twitter has seen falling user rates in the past two quarters and expects to see yet another lower than expected quarter when this one ends. While ad sales are up, as are profits, interest is down, so that doesn’t bode well for the sustainability of any ad revenue bump.

Twitter says this is a temporary correction due to the clean-up efforts as well as issues related to privacy regulation changes in the European Union. The company says the crackdown has temporarily slowed traffic on the site, but believes this will turnaround in time. Meanwhile, their message to investors is to focus on how strong ad traffic is. Even with fewer than expected users, more people are clicking on the ads.

Another possible factor in the unexpected reduction in users could be people avoiding Twitter to protect themselves from blowback if they say or do something other people don’t like. The list of public figures, performers, and executives that have found themselves in hot water over Twitter grows by the week. So, it stands to reason that some people in prominent positions have decided that the risk is just not worth the reward. They have stopped using Twitter as a personal protection for themselves or any brands associated with them.

Whatever the reason for the slow growth, the clock is ticking for Twitter. The company needs to get its monthly user totals back up to or above projections in order to calm nervous investors, who use monthly user data as an indicator of potential growth. Making the clock tick down even faster for Twitter is the fact that, prior to the downturn, growth had been stagnant.

That stagnation has some people openly – and loudly – wondering if Twitter is “maxed out.” People are asking if the company has hit a ceiling on users and potential revenue. Twitter, then, needs to find a way to be fresh and to engage current users while successfully attracting new users, and they need to do it even as they have upset a significant segment of their user base by blocking or removing accounts.

From a consumer PR perspective, the way ahead is murky for Twitter. The platform is more popular when conversations can flow without too much oversight, but the lack of oversight let things get out of hand. Now, the company has to find the right message that will encourage connection, bring people back and put the numbers back on a growth trajectory, while still protecting the platform from abuse.

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Ronn Torossian is the Founder, President and CEO of New York-based 5W Public Relations. He has overseen the company's rapid growth and expansion to the Inc. 500 list, as well as provided counsel to hundreds of companies, including members of the Fortune 500, Inc. 500 and Forbes 400. His work spans global interests, corporate entities, high-profile individuals, regional business entities, government agencies and academic institutions - both on routine public relations matters and extremely sensitive issues. One of the foremost public relations experts in the U.S., Torossian is known for his aggressive, results-focused orientation, as well as his close working relationships with members of the media, influencers, decision makers, politicians and celebrities. At 5W Public Relations, Torossian's client experience has included programs for Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Anheuser-Busch, Barnes & Noble, Cantor Fitzgerald, IHOP, McDonald's, Evian, EDS, VeriSign, XM Radio, Seagram's, The Loews Regency, Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment, Marriott Hotels, Vail Resorts, Pamela Anderson, Snoop Dogg, the Government of Israel, and others. Referred to by The New York Post as a "publicity guru," by Fox News as a "high-powered PR CEO," by Tyra Banks as a "crisis management guru," and by CNN as "a leading PR expert," Torossian is regularly featured in and quoted by the media, including by CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, NBC, The New York Times, and others. CBS National News said "Ronn Torossian knows spin," and a New York Times feature story on Torossian referred to him as "The consummate hard-driving, scrappy NY publicist." Earlier in his career, Torossian was a Vice President/Group Director for one of The InterPublic Group's (IPG) largest PR agencies, where he was responsible for significant client growth and successful client programs, including work for Clinique, Fox News Channel, DHL, Hard Rock Café and others. A resident of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Torossian was named to the Advertising Age "40 Under 40" list, PR Week's "40 Under 40" List, is a regular lecturer at universities and conferences, a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and a board member of numerous non-profit organizations.