Tesla CEO Elon Musk says his deal to buy Twitter can’t move forward unless the company shows public proof that less than 5% of the accounts on the social media platform are fake or spam.
Musk made the comment in a reply to another user on Twitter early Tuesday.
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In his tweet, he said that “20% fake/spam accounts, while 4 times what Twitter claims, could be much higher. My offer was based on Twitter’s SEC filings being accurate.”
He added: “Yesterday, Twitter’s CEO publicly refused to show proof f 5%. This deal cannot move forward until he does.”
Musk had spent much of the previous day in a back-and-forth with Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal, who posted a series of tweets explaining his company’s effort to fight bots and how it has consistently estimated that less than 5% of Twitter accounts are fake.
The Twitter CEO explained his company’s financial incentive to remove spam. He also characterized spam fighting as a difficult task, and he claimed to remove half a million spam accounts per day.
Musk responded with a poop emoji.
Take a look —
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 16, 2022
20% fake/spam accounts, while 4 times what Twitter claims, could be *much* higher.
My offer was based on Twitter’s SEC filings being accurate.
Yesterday, Twitter’s CEO publicly refused to show proof of <5%.
This deal cannot move forward until he does.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 17, 2022
Twitter has become known for spam accounts posting inflammatory tweets.
In 2019, the topic “#NotMyAriel” was trending in response to a Black actress earning the lead role in the upcoming movie The Little Mermaid. However, the topic “#NotMyAriel” appeared to have been started by an account with a suspiciously low number of followers and with a stock image as its profile picture, according to screenshots posted by journalist Katie Herzog.
The topic later trended partially because other users were complaining about it trending. In other words, a spam account appears to have exacerbated racial divisions by gaming the algorithm.
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Musk has previously spoken about inauthentic accounts, a problem he has said he wants to rid Twitter of.
At a Miami technology conference Monday, Musk estimated that at least 20% of Twitter’s 229 million accounts are spam bots, a percentage he said was at the low end of his assessment, according to a Bloomberg News report.
The battle over spam accounts kicked off last week when Musk tweeted that the Twitter deal was on on hold pending confirmation of the company’s estimates that they make up less than 5% of total users.
Musk’s comments are likely to bolster theories from analysts that the billionaire either wants out of the deal or to buy the company at a cheaper price. His tweet Tuesday came in reply to one from a Tesla news site speculating that Musk “may be looking for a better Twitter deal as $44 billion seems too high.”
However, both Musk and the Twitter executives have demonstrated their commitments to this deal.
On Friday, Musk’s team met with Twitter representatives as “part of the transaction planning process,” according to Twitter’s statement to The New York Times.
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Twitter Chairman Bret Taylor tweeted at the time, “We remain committed to our agreement.”
Musk described the Twitter deal as “temporarily on hold” but also claimed to be “still committed to acquisition.”
Still committed to acquisition
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 13, 2022
The Associated Press contributed to this article.