London — Tesla CEO Elon Musk says his deal to buy Twitter can only go through if the company shows public evidence that less than 5% of accounts on the social media platform are fake or spam.
Musk made the comment early Tuesday in a response to another user on Twitter. He spent much of the previous day back and forth with Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal, who posted a series of tweets explaining his company’s efforts to fight bots and how it has consistently estimated that less than 5% of Twitter accounts is fake.
In his tweet Tuesday, Musk said that “20% of fake/spam accounts, while four times what Twitter claims, could be much higher. My offer was based on the accuracy of Twitter’s SEC filings.”
He added: “Yesterday the CEO of Twitter publicly refused to show proof of 5%. This deal cannot go through until he does.”
It’s Musk’s latest salvo over inauthentic accounts, an issue he’s said he wants to get rid of on Twitter.
At a technology conference in Miami on Monday, Musk estimated that at least 20% of the 229 million Twitter accounts are spam bots, a percentage that was at the lower end of his rating, according to a Bloomberg News report.
The battle over spam accounts started last week when Musk tweeted thatpending confirmation of the company’s estimates that they make up less than 5% of the total number of users.
Also at the All In Summit, Musk gave the strongest hint yet that heTwitter than the $44 billion offer he made last month.
He said a viable deal at a lower price could not be ruled out, according to Bloomberg’s report, which said it had watched a livestream video of the conference posted by a Twitter user.
Musk’s comments are likely to bolster analysts’ theories that the billionaire either wants to get out of the deal or buy the company at a lower price. His tweet Tuesday came in response to one from a Tesla news site that speculated that Musk “might be looking for a better Twitter deal because $44 billion seems too high.”
According to Agence France-Presse, Wedbush analyst Dan Ives noted in a note to investors: “It seems that the spam/bots problem is on the rise and clearly confusing the Twitter deal. The bot problem was over by the end of the day. known by the New York City cab driver and feels more like the ‘dog ate homework’ excuse to us to either suspend the Twitter deal or negotiate a lower price.”
But the Reuters news service reports that Twitter said on Tuesday it is determined to close the deal at the agreed price and terms, and is subject to Twitter shareholder approval and expected to close in 2022.
Musk made the offer to buy Twitter for $54.20 a share on April 14. Twitter shares have since fallen and are now down just over 8%, closing at $37.39 on Monday.
To fund the acquisition, he pledged some of his Tesla stock, but it has fallen by a third since the deal was announced.