Elon Musk says Twitter deal ‘cannot go on’ until it proves bot numbers

Elon Musk has reiterated his claim that fake and spam accounts could make up more than 20 percent of Twitter users, saying the deal to acquire the social media company “can’t move forwarduntil Twitter proves the correctness of its much lower estimate of less than 5 percent. Musk is currently buying Twitter and its estimated 226 million daily active users that can generate revenue of $44 billion.

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

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

There is speculation that Elon Musk is using the discussion about the number of bots on Twitter as a tactic to negotiate a lower purchase price. At yesterday’s conference, the CEO said a viable deal at a lower price would not be “out of the question.” Bloomberg reported.

Today’s comments come days after Musk said his deal to take over the social media network was “temporarily on hold” over concerns over the number of spam or fake accounts reported. Although he later said that he is “still committed to” [the] acquisition.”

Tesla CEO’s attempts to clarify these numbers sparked a public spat with Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal on Monday. Agrawal gave details on the number of spam accounts Twitter suspends each day, outlining how the team identifies them. But he added that “we don’t believe this particular estimate can be performed externally, given the critical need to use both public and private information (which we cannot share).” Musk responded to his lengthy tweet thread with the turd emoji.

“So how do advertisers know what they’re getting for their money?” Musk tweeted† “This is fundamental to Twitter’s financial health.” Tesla’s CEO had suggested: publicly sample 100 accounts and identifying the number of bots as verification.

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

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