Twitter quickly gained a lot of new users in 2020 thanks to the pandemic

Turns out people like discussing polarizing global events on Twitter.

Stephen Lam / reuters

Twitter just posted earnings for the first quarter of 2021, and it sheds a light on how much the company grew during the ongoing pandemic. On average, Twitter had 199 million daily active users in Q1 2021, up almost 20 percent compared to the 166 million Twitter counted one year ago, when the scope of the COVID-19 pandemic had recently become clear. Twitter grew faster outside the US over the last year; international daily active users grew from 133 million in Q1 of 2020 to 162 million in the last quarter, good for a 22 percent increase.

Between the ongoing pandemic and a positively insane election cycle in the US, it's not surprising that Twitter did well. The company seems to thrive when there's a lot of of polarizing events for people to argue over, and there's no doubt that sums up 2020 pretty well. The increase in users met with a corresponding increase in revenue — Q1 revenue totaled $1.04 billion, up 28 percent year-over-year, and net income was $68 million. One year ago, Twitter lost $8 million, so we're looking at a pretty significant improvement.

Twitter did caution that the more rapid user growth it experienced in 2020 would likely mean that users would not grow nearly as fast in 2021. In its letter to shareholders, the company said that the "significant pandemic-related surge" in 2020 might lead to user growth rates in the low double digits year-over-year for the rest of 2021, with the lowest growth forecasted for next quarter.

It also looks like Twitter's bottom line didn't suffer from its decision to finally ban Donald Trump in January, either.

Twitter is holding a conference call with investors at 6PM ET, and we'll update this story with anything we hear from that call.