Elon Musk has expressed that he wants to receive a discount on his bid to acquire Twitter equal to the percentage of users that are spam bots.
The billionaire, who claims to be spending less than 5% of his time on the $44 billion acquisition, has made a series of comments in recent weeks criticizing Twitter and its management team.
Musk recently said the acquisition was temporarily on hold as he wanted to confirm the company’s own figures that accounts not operated by real humans accounted for less than 5% of users.
According to Business Insider, in response to the suggestion that “if 25% of users are bots, then the Twitter acquisition deal should cost 25% less,” he wrote: “Absolutely.”
What Elon Musk’s argument is about
The CEO of Tesla and SpaceX has claimed that well over 20% of accounts on Twitter could be “fake/spam” and has said that his offer to acquire the company was based on Twitter’s own reporting being accurate.
He criticized Parag Agrawal, Twitter CEO, for publicly refusing to “show evidence” that less than 5% of accounts were “fake/spam” and wrote that he was “concerned that Twitter has a disincentive to reduce spam, since it reduces the perceived daily users”.
Agrawal had written a fifteen-post thread denying this incentive and explaining that Twitter is actively trying to reduce spam accounts; suspending over half a million spam accounts every day and blocking millions of accounts every week that can’t pass human verification challenges.
Musk responded with a bunch of poop emojis, asking, “So how do advertisers know what they’re getting for their money? This is critical to the financial health of Twitter.”
Musk proposed that users run their own test to see if they could see whether or not accounts were authentic, though Twitter warned that it was not possible for outside observers to identify whether an account was genuinely run by a human or if it was automated or formed. part of a platform manipulation campaign.
In an official Twitter blog post, the company said: “We permanently allow millions of accounts each month that are automated or spam, and we do so before they even reach an eyeball in a Twitter timeline or search.”
But this captures two different types of fake accounts, one of which is a bot, a fully automated account, which is not banned on Twitter; as well as inauthentic accounts designed to help manipulate the platform.
Twitter ensures that there are few fake accounts, and Musk is not convinced
Musk appears to be using the issue as a way to force a reduction in the agreed price for the acquisition, with Twitter shares suffering amid the acrimony taking place in public.
The company signaled last week that it would not seek to back down on the $44 billion price tag in a statement filed with the SEC that said: “Twitter is committed to completing the transaction at the agreed price and terms as soon as possible.” ”.
Musk told a conference in Miami last Monday: “You cannot pay the same price for something that is much worse than what they claimed. The more questions I ask, the more my worries grow. They claim that they have this complex methodology that only they can understand. It can’t be some deep mystery that’s more complex than the human soul or something.”
Finally, Agrawal said: “Our estimate is based on multiple human reviews (in replication) of thousands of accounts, which are randomly sampled, consistently over time, from accounts we count as daily active users. We do this every quarter, and have been doing it for many years.
Our actual internal estimates for the last four quarters were well below 5%, based on the methodology described above. The margins of error in our estimates give us confidence in our public statements each quarter,” she concluded.