Elon Musk said early Tuesday on Twitter that his $44 billion plan to buy the social network “cannot move forward” until CEO Parag Agrawal can publicly verify that spam bots account for less than 5% of the platform’s users.
The Tesla and SpaceX CEO claimed in the article that one-fifth of Twitter accounts are fake, a claim he made at a Miami technology conference on Monday.
Twitter indicated in Securities and Exchange Commission filings that fraudulent accounts accounted for “less than 5% of our monetizable daily active users” in the first months of 2022.
Here’s what Musk tweeted shortly after 3:30 a.m. EDT Tuesday:
“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.”
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
Musk appeared to be referring to a series of tweets sent by Agrawal on Monday that detailed some of the methods the firm uses private and public data to determine the number of bogus accounts.
“Unfortunately, we don’t believe that this specific estimation can be performed externally, given the critical need to use both public and private information (which we can’t share).”
Each human review is based on Twitter rules that define spam and platform manipulation, and uses both public and private data (eg, IP address, phone number, geolocation, client/browser signatures, what the account does when it’s active…) to make a determination on each account.
— Parag Agrawal (@paraga) May 16, 2022
It’s Musk’s latest salvo against fake accounts, an issue he’s promised to eliminate on Twitter.
“If our Twitter bid succeeds, we will defeat the spam bots or die trying!” he tweeted on April 21, adding that he would “authenticate all real humans.”
And authenticate all real humans
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 21, 2022
According to a Bloomberg News story, Musk indicated at a Miami technology conference Monday that at least 20% of Twitter’s 229 million accounts are spam bots, a figure he said was on the low end of his estimate.
The debate over spam accounts began last week when Musk announced that the Twitter transaction had been put on hold pending confirmation of the company’s estimations that spam accounts made up less than 5% of all users.
Then, Musk wrote Friday morning:
“Twitter deal temporarily on hold pending details supporting calculation that spam/fake accounts do indeed represent less than 5% of users.”
In a second tweet Friday, Musk added that he is “still committed to (the) acquisition.”
Still committed to acquisition
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 13, 2022