Elon Musk Says Deal Can’t “Move Forward” Until Twitter Proves Bot Counts

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The Tesla CEO said he thinks the proportion of bots is higher than announced by Twitter.

The logo for Twitter will appear over a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in 2021. Richard Drew/AP Photo, file

Elon Musk said Tuesday his $44 billion bid to buy Twitter “cannot go ahead” until the social media company’s CEO proves less than 5% of the platform’s users are fake.

Musk’s tweet comes a day after he said he could try to renegotiate for less, and accused Twitter of possibly misleading him about the percentage of fake accounts on the site, which is the clearest signal yet that he could try to get out of business.

At a conference in Miami on Monday, Musk said a lower price isn’t “out of the question,” the latest sign he may be backing away from his original $44 billion bid announced on April 25.

The terms of the deal include a $1 billion termination fee, and its withdrawal could spark a messy legal battle, some experts said.

The problem with bots — accounts that often peddle cryptocurrency scams or other schemes — prompted Musk to shelve the deal last week.

In a thread Monday about Twitter’s methodology, CEO Parag Agrawal said the site blocks more than half a million spam accounts every day. He said his estimate of the bots is based on human-performed reviews on a quarterly basis, from the thousands of accounts it counts as active, which are chosen at random.

But the Tesla boss responded to the thread with a poop emoji.

Musk said at Monday’s conference that he thinks the proportion of bots is higher than Twitter announced.

“It’s a material prejudicial misrepresentation when they actually loudly claim less than 5% of fake or spam accounts, when in reality it’s four or five times that many,” he said. “It’s a big deal.”

The comments appear to refer to a clause in the contract that could allow him to back out in the event of an event that significantly changes the deal.

To fund his push to privatize Twitter, Musk, who owns a large stake in Tesla, had committed billions of dollars of his net worth, making him the richest man in the world according to the Forbes Wealth Index. More recently, when Tesla and other tech stocks took a hit, he sought out more investors to reduce his equity exposure on the deal. The Washington Post has called.

The tech mogul has said he wants to remove bot accounts after acquiring the company and encourage “freedom of expression” on Twitter, a view some employees fear could impact security policies put in place to protect users online became. Musk’s plans include restoring the account of former President Donald Trump, who was suspended following the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol.

https://www.boston.com/news/business/2022/05/17/elon-musk-says-deal-cant-move-forward-until-twitter-proves-bot-numbers/ Elon Musk Says Deal Can’t “Move Forward” Until Twitter Proves Bot Counts

Rick Schindler

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