Elon Musk says he needs proof that less than 5% of Twitter's users are bots — or the deal isn't going ahead.
"My offer was based on Twitter’s SEC filings being accurate," Musk tweeted overnight. "Yesterday, Twitter’s CEO publicly refused to show proof of <5%. This deal cannot move forward until he does."
Musk last week paused his $44 billion Twitter takeover of the social media company until he got more information on the number of spam and fake accounts on the platform. In his overnight tweet, he voiced concern that the true proportion of spam bots on Twitter is 20% — four times what Twitter has claimed — and said that it "could be *much* higher." He had already made similar claims at a tech conference in Miami on Monday.
Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal yesterday tweeted a thread that seemed to be in response to Musk's comments at the conference, arguing that "spam harms the experience for real people on Twitter, and therefore can harm our business." He added: "As such, we are strongly incentivized to detect and remove as much spam as we possibly can, every single day. Anyone who suggests otherwise is just wrong." The rest of the thread described how hard it was to deal with spam, and how much time the company spends fighting the problem, but stopped short of providing numbers.
One of Musk's biggest stated aims for Twitter is to remove spam bots entirely from the platform. Exactly why Musk is focusing so much on the exact number is unclear: To secure a discount on the deal? As a way to pull out? Because he's a stickler? Just to be Musk-ish about the whole thing?
A couple hours after last week's outburst, Musk said he was "still committed to the acquisition." But the number of spam bots has clearly become and important issue for him, whatever the reasoning.