Elon Musk stalls on $44,000,000,000 Twitter deal over spam bot worries

The billionaire suspects spam bots account for at least 20% of users, compared with Twitter’s official estimate of 5% (Picture: Reuters)

Elon Musk has delayed his Twitter deal over concerns spam bots make up more than what the company initially claimed.

The billionaire said in a tweet today he would not be moving forward with his $44 billion offer until Twitter shows proof that spam bots account for less than 5% of its total users – hours after suggesting he could seek a lower price for the company.

Mr Musk said his deal to buy Twitter was ‘temporarily on hold’ over details around the number of spam and fake accounts present on the site.

He tweeted: ‘My offer was based on Twitter’s SEC filings being accurate. Yesterday, Twitter’s CEO publicly refused to show proof of <5% (spam accounts). This deal cannot move forward until he does.’

Hours later, Twitter said it was committed to completing the deal at the agreed price and terms ‘as promptly as practicable’.

Mr Musk suspects spam bots account for at least 20% of users, compared with Twitter’s official estimate of 5%.

‘You can’t pay the same price for something that is much worse than they claimed,’ he said yesterday at a conference in Miami.

Asked if the deal is viable at a different price, Mr Musk said: ‘I mean, it is not out of the question. The more questions I ask, the more my concerns grow.’

‘They claim that they have got this complex methodology that only they can understand… It cannot be some deep mystery that is, like, more complex than the human soul or something like that.’

Twitter’s CEO Parag Agrawal tweeted internal estimates of spam accounts on the social media platform for the last four quarters were ‘well under 5%’.

But Mr Musk was not buying Agrawal’s defence of the methodology, responding with a poop emoji.

He added: ‘So how do advertisers know what they’re getting for their money? This is fundamental to the financial health of Twitter.’

Tackling the problem of spam bots on Twitter has been on Mr Musk’s agenda since the beginning of his acquisition of the company.

Mr Musk has called for tests of random samples of Twitter users to identify bots. He said ‘there is some chance it might be over 90% of daily active users’.

The billionaire had previously promised investors that he could increase Twitter’s annual revenue to $26.4 billion by 2028.

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