Elon Musk puts Twitter deal on hold over bot numbers claim

Less than 5% of users are spam accounts? Is that too high ... or too low for him?


Elon Musk has hit the brakes on his proposed takeover of Twitter in light of the platform's insistence that spam accounts accounted for less than five percent of its daily active users.

The figure was raised in an SEC filing on Monday, the company's latest earning release [PDF], where it said "there are a number of false or spam accounts in existence on our platform."

The company continued in the filing: "We have performed an internal review of a sample of accounts and estimate that the average of false or spam accounts during the first quarter of 2022 represented fewer than 5 percent of our mDAU [monetizable daily active users] during the quarter."

The number of bots will affect plans to monetize the platform, and presumably will have made fellow investors wary in a week where Big Tech stock is worth $1 trillion less after just a few days.

Musk is in the throes of a Twitter acquisition with a $54.20-a-share deal, comfortably above current stock price of the platform. The deal, however, has yet to close and, free-speech pronouncements from the billionaire aside, Twitter has been undergoing some reshuffling on the exec floor. On the way out are Kayvon Beykpour, GM of Consumer, as well as Revenue Product Lead Bruce Falck.

Both took to Twitter following the departures, with Falck thanking the teams he'd worked with and Beykpour expressing surprise.

Musk tweeted in April that "we will defeat the spam bots or die trying!" but today's pronouncement implies that he wants to check just how many require defeating. Twitter was frustratingly opaque in how it had come up with the spam bot figure. The Register has asked the company to show its working and will update this piece if the company responds.

The deal, however, is on hold until Musk gets those details. Whether Musk will proceed once he has the requested information or back away from the acquisition remains to be seen. ®

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