Elon Musk says Twitter deal ‘can’t move forward’ until he tests bot numbers

Elon Musk has reiterated his claim that fake and spam accounts could account for more than 20 per cent of Twitter users, saying the deal to acquire the social media company “I can’t move forwarduntil Twitter proves the accuracy of its much lower estimate of less than 5 percent. Musk is currently in the process of buying Twitter and its estimated 226 million monetizable daily active users for $44 billion.

“20% fake/spam accounts, while 4 times what Twitter claims, could be *much* higher,” the Tesla CEO tweeted in response to a report from teslarati. “My offer was based on Twitter’s SEC filings being accurate. Yesterday, the CEO of Twitter publicly refused to show proof of <5%. This deal cannot move forward until he does."

Musk made similar comments yesterday at a tech conference in Miami, Bloomberg reported at the time. During the presentation, the CEO of Tesla estimated that bots could represent at least 20 percent of Twitter users. “Currently, what I’m being told is that there’s just no way to know the number of bots,” Musk said. “It’s like, as unknowable as the human soul.”

There has been speculation that Elon Musk is using the bot count discussion on Twitter as a tactic to negotiate a lower acquisition price. At yesterday’s conference, the CEO said a viable deal at a lower price would not be “out of the question.” Bloomberg informed.

Today’s comments come days after Musk said his deal to acquire the social network was “temporarily on hold” due to concerns about the amount of spam or fake accounts being reported. Although he later said that he “is still engaged to [the] acquisition.”

The Tesla CEO’s attempts to get clarity on these numbers led to a public spat with Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal on Monday. Agrawal provided details on the number of spam accounts that Twitter suspends every day and described how the team identifies them. But he added that “we do not believe this specific estimate can be done externally, given the critical need to use both public and private information (which we cannot share).” Musk responded to his long tweet thread with the turd emoji.

“So how do advertisers know what they are getting for their money?” Musk tweeted. “This is critical to the financial health of Twitter.” The CEO of Tesla had suggested public sampling of 100 accounts and identifying the number of bots as verification.

Musk has made addressing the amount of spam and inauthentic accounts on Twitter a key part of his pitch about how he would improve the service under his ownership. He also talked about his desire to prioritize freedom of expression and open up the platform’s algorithms.

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