Tesla CEO Elon Musk continues to stall his acquisition of the social media platform Twitter, claiming that he cannot move forward until the number of bot accounts on the platform is clarified. Musk said in a tweet to the platform that his offer was based on “Twitter’s SEC filings being accurate,” and that he believes the platform could have 20 percent bots “or *much* higher.”
Twitter has previously claimed that around five percent of the accounts on its platform are bot or fake accounts. Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal recently tweeted a thread outlining how the company measures spam on the platform, in which he stated: “Our actual internal estimates for the last four quarters were all well under 5% – based on the methodology outlined above. The error margins on our estimates give us confidence in our public statements each quarter.”
Agrawal later added that Twitter doesn’t believe that the number of bot accounts on the platform can be accurately measured, to which Tesla CEO Elon Musk replied with a poop emoji:
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 16, 2022
Musk added to the tweet, stating:
So how do advertisers know what they’re getting for their money? This is fundamental to the financial health of Twitter.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 16, 2022
In the early morning hours of Tuesday, Musk tweeted that the deal cannot move forward until Twitter proves its claims of extremely low bot counts. He argues that bots are much more likely to be in the range of 20 percent “or *much* higher.”
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
As a result of Musk’s fears over bot accounts, he has placed his acquisition of Twitter on hold. “Twitter deal temporarily on hold pending details supporting calculation that spam/fake accounts do indeed represent less than 5% of users,” Musk said in a tweet. Musk added that he is “still committed to the acquisition.”
Still committed to acquisition
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 13, 2022
Breitbart News reporter John Carney outlined why the bot account numbers matter so much to Musk, stating
Twitter said in a recent filing that less than five percent of it what it calls its “monetizable daily active users” were “false or spam accounts” during the first quarter of 2022. There are many in the tech community and on Wall Street who think that’s an absurdly low number and that the real figure is much higher. Twitter gave no indication about how it arrived at the five percent figure, leaving room for doubt. Musk wants to “see the receipts,” as they say.
For the sake of argument, let’s say that Twitter is wrong and that the real number of fake accounts is higher. If the undercount is just a few percentage points, so that the real figure is seven percent, it’s probably not a big deal. What would be a big deal is if bots make up one-third or even half of Twitter’s daily active users.
The legal liabilities that would be associated with underestimating bots on that scale would be enormous. There would be suits from advertisers claiming they had been misled about how many genuine human beings were seeing their accounts. Shareholders would sue saying they had purchased shares at prices pushed artificially high by Twitter’s misstatements. Bondholders could sue alleging that they had been misled. Regulators such as the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Trade Commission might bring lawsuits. Even users might be able to successfully sue Twitter by showing they had expended time and money to grow their reach on the website based on how the idea that they were reaching real people and not a “readership” made up of thirty-percent spam bots.
Read more at Breitbart News here.
Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address [email protected]