Twitter may have half a billion users, but that figure is deceiving, at least according to a recent study by a French analytics firm.

Semiocast, a Paris-based firm that provides consumer insight and brand management solutions to companies and individuals, revealed Monday that while Twitter now has over 500 million users, only 170 million are active.

That comes down to just 34 percent of the overall reported users.

"Active" refers to users who've modified their accounts at least once over a three-month period. Modifications could include avatar changes, following someone new or sending a tweet.

While some tweeters fall under Semiocast's definition of active usage, a good number may be logging in just to have a look around, though their numbers weren't picked up by the study.

Twitter's 500+ million figure does not include spambots, Semiocast's founder revealed. Twitter has reportedly been deleting these accounts in droves.

Country by country, device by device

The study, which looked at Twitter figures from January, found the Netherlands had the highest proportion of active users with 33 percent. Japan was a close second with 30 and the US came in, after Spain, with 28 percent.

Most users are coming to Twitter's website via desktops, representing 27.6 percent of the overall user activity worldwide. Twitter's own access points, including TweetDeck, account for 75.4 percent of all public tweets made.

Overall, Twitter's mobile clients are most used, representing about 61 percent of all tweets. Twitter's mobile apps and mobile web presence make up 74 percent of that total.

These figures come at a time when Twitter, like Facebook did not too long ago, is trying to monetize visitors through advertising and other marketing strategies.

Via TechCrunch