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Musk: Doubt About Spam Accounts Could Kill Twitter Deal
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 02: Maye Musk and Elon Musk attend The 2022 Met Gala Celebrating "In America: An Anthology of Fashion" at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 2, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by
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Will he or won’t he?

Billionaire Elon Musk turned the social media world upside when he swept in and scooped up millions of Twitter shares, then made a shocking move to buy the whole kit and caboodle for $44 billion. But first he wants to clear up a couple of things: fake and spam accounts on the platform.

“20% fake/spam accounts, while 4 times what Twitter claims, could be *much* higher,” he wrote on Twitter. “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.”

Later, Musk told attendees at a Miami conference that buying the social media giant for a lower price wasn’t “out of the question,” reported Bloomberg.

“Currently what I’m being told is that there’s just no way to know the number of bots,” Musk said at the conference. “It’s like, as unknowable as the human soul.”

But Musk did quantify what he thinks, estimating that at least 20% of Twitter’s 229 million accounts are spam bots — and he said the number could be much higher.

Musk had initially agreed to pay a 38% premium on shares when he negotiated a deal with the company’s board in April. But on Friday, Musk suddenly announced the deal was “temporarily on hold” because he said the number of bots on Twitter was far higher than the company claimed. The Tesla and SpaceX founder said a team of analysts would do their own research to find out the real number of fake and spam accounts.

After Musk’s tweets, Twitter said it hoped to complete the sale at the agreed-upon price “as promptly as practicable.”

All the turmoil is pushing the price of Twitter stock down; shares fell by more than 8% after Musk’s comments. Twitter was trading at $37.38 a share, far below what Musk agreed to pay — $54.20 a share.

Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal on Monday tweeted that spam “harms the experience for real people on Twitter” and that the company is “strongly incentivized to detect and remove as much spam as we possibly can, every single day.”

“Anyone who suggests otherwise is just wrong,” Agrawal tweeted. He also denied claims that Twitter wasn’t doing all it could do to get rid of automated accounts.

Joseph Curl has covered politics for 35 years, including 12 years as White House correspondent for a national newspaper. He was also the a.m. editor of the Drudge Report for four years. Send tips to [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @josephcurl.

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