Musk seeks evidence on Twitter spam bot share to move deal forward

May 17 (Reuters) – Elon Musk said on Tuesday his $44 billion bid would not go ahead until Twitter Inc proves that spambots make up less than 5% of its total users, some hours after suggesting he might seek a lower price for the business.

“My offer was based on the accuracy of Twitter’s filings with the SEC. Yesterday, Twitter’s CEO publicly refused to show proof of <5% (spam counts). This deal cannot move forward until he won't," Musk said in a tweet.

After suspending his offer last week pending information on spam accounts, Musk said he suspected they made up at least 20% of users – compared to Twitter’s official estimate of 5%.

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“You can’t pay the same price for something that’s way worse than they claim,” he said at the All-In Summit 2022 conference in Miami on Monday.

When asked if the Twitter deal was viable at a different price, Musk said at the conference, “I mean, it’s not out of the question. The more questions I ask, the more my concerns grow. .”

“They claim they have this complex methodology that only they can understand… It can’t be some deep mystery that’s, like, more complex than the human soul or something.”

The stock had fallen more than 8% on Monday to close at $37.39, below its level the day before Musk revealed his stake on Twitter in early April, casting doubt that the billionaire entrepreneur would proceed with its acquisition. at the agreed price.

Twitter chief executive Parag Agrawal tweeted on Monday that internal estimates of spam accounts on the social media platform for the past four quarters were “well below 5%”, responding to Musk’s days of criticism on the company’s handling of fake accounts.

Twitter’s estimate, which has remained the same since 2013, could not be replicated externally given the need to use both public and private information to determine if an account is spam, Agrawal said. .

Musk responded to Agrawal’s defense of the methodology with a poo emoji. “So how do advertisers know what they’re getting for their money? It’s fundamental to Twitter’s financial health,” he wrote.

Musk has pledged to change Twitter’s content moderation practices, railing against decisions such as his banning of former President Donald Trump as being too aggressive while pledging to crack down on ‘spam bots’ . Read more

Musk called for tests on random samples of Twitter users to identify bots. He said, “chances are it’s over 90% daily active users.”

Independent researchers have estimated that 9-15% of millions of Twitter profiles are bots. Spammers or fake accounts are designed to artificially manipulate or stimulate activity on social media platforms such as Twitter. Read more

Currently, Twitter does not require users to register using their real identities and expressly allows automated, parody and pseudonymous profiles.

It prohibits impersonation and spam, and penalizes accounts when it determines their purpose is to “deceive or manipulate others” by engaging in scams, coordinating abuse campaigns, or artificially inflating commitment.

Musk’s comments to a private audience could add to concerns about his disclosures of market-moving information.

Musk, known for his outspoken posts on Twitter, has a long history of skirmishes with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Recently, a US judge criticized him for trying to evade a settlement with the SEC requiring monitoring of his Tesla tweets.

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Reporting by Katie Paul and Hyunjoo Jin in San Francisco and Krystal Hu in New York; and Shubham Kalia in Bengaluru Editing by Kenneth Li, Matthew Lewis, Bernard Orr and Aditya Soni

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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