Elon Musk says Twitter deal ‘can’t go forward’ without fake account details
Elon Musk says his deal to buy Twitter ‘cannot go forward’ until he has ‘proof’ of the site’s estimate that spam and fake accounts account for less than 5 % users.
The billionaire Tesla boss has publicly argued with the social media company’s chief executive over the number of robot accounts on the platform and said he believes they are higher than the figures of Twitter does indicate this.
Mr Musk tweeted last week that his £34.5billion deal to acquire the site was “on hold” while he sought more details about the number of fake accounts on the site.
Twitter chief executive Parag Agrawal defended the company’s approach to estimating the scale of spam accounts on Twitter – to which Mr Musk responded with a poop emoji and repeated his claim that the figure 5% was an underestimate.
“20% fake/spam accounts, when 4 times what Twitter claims, could be *much* higher,” Musk tweeted Tuesday morning.
“My offer was based on the accuracy of Twitter’s SEC filings.
“Yesterday, the CEO of Twitter publicly refused to show proof of 5%.
“This deal can’t move forward until it does.”
Some pundits have suggested the billionaire may be looking for ways to try to renegotiate the price of the deal or find a way to walk away from it.
Twitter’s share price remains well below the $54.20 Musk agreed to pay per share to close the deal.
According to a Bloomberg report, Mr Musk said at a conference in Miami on Monday that renegotiating a deal for the company at a lower price was not “out of the question”.
Nicky Danino, senior lecturer in computer science at the University of Central Lancashire, said: “While things are stagnating, I would be surprised if Musk tries to back out of the deal altogether. It can be a negotiation tactic.
“I say this because buying Twitter would dramatically increase Musk’s power.
“In a world where information is one of our most valuable assets, investing in a platform with such a bank of human population knowledge is a smart business decision.”
But social media expert and industry commentator Matt Navarra said he thought Mr Musk might be willing to pay a billion dollar ‘break fee’ included in the deal in order to walk away.
“Elon’s latest Twitter antics should come as no surprise. There are so many reasons why pulling out of the deal would be the smartest move for him right now,” he said.
“Giving up $1 billion to walk away would be much cheaper than the rising costs of this deal due to Twitter’s falling stock price and Tesla’s falling stock. Twitter is currently in a very vulnerable position, and Elon Musk knows it.
“The tech drama is far from over, the finale is yet to come.”
It has been suggested that the Tesla and SpaceX boss’ concern over the number of fake accounts on the site is linked to his plans to try to monetize Twitter’s user base through more advertising and following.
Susannah Streeter, senior investment and market analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said the numbers are a “key metric” for “establishing an accurate number of real tweeters is seen as key to future revenue streams”.
When announcing the deal last month, Mr Musk said he wanted to “defeat spambots” and strengthen free speech on the platform.
He also said he wanted to “unleash” the site’s potential and “make Twitter better than ever by improving the product with new features.”