London (AFP) – Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said his deal to buy Twitter cannot go ahead unless the company shows public evidence that less than 5% of accounts on the social media platform are fake or spam.
Musk made the comment in response to another Twitter user early Tuesday. He’s spent much of the previous day chatting back and forth with Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal, who has posted a series of tweets explaining his company’s efforts to fight bots and how it has consistently estimated that less than 5% of Twitter accounts are fake.
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In his tweet Tuesday, Musk said that “20% of fake/spam accounts, while 4 times what Twitter claims, could be much higher. I based my reasoning on the accuracy of Twitter SEC’s Twitter filings.”
He added, “Yesterday the Twitter CEO publicly refused to show 5% proof. This deal cannot go ahead until he does.”
Twitter declined to comment.
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It’s Musk’s latest shout out about fake accounts, a problem he said he wanted to get rid of on Twitter.
At a tech conference in Miami on Monday, Musk estimated that at least 20% of Twitter’s 229 million accounts are spam bots, a percentage he said was on the low end of his rating, according to a Bloomberg News report.
The battle over spam accounts began last week when Musk tweeted that a Twitter deal was on hold pending confirmation of the company’s estimate that they make up less than 5% of total users.
Also at the All In Summit, Musk gave the strongest hint yet that he would like to pay less on Twitter than the $44 billion offer he made last month.
A viable deal at a lower price would not be ruled out, he said, according to a report by Bloomberg Agency, which said it had seen a live video feed of the conference posted by a Twitter user.
Musk’s comments are likely to reinforce analyst theories that the billionaire either wants to exit the deal or buy the company cheaper. His tweet on Tuesday came in response to one from Tesla news site speculating that Musk “may be looking for a better deal on Twitter because $44 billion seems too high.”
“Twitter shares will be under pressure again this morning because the chances of a deal eventually closing don’t look good right now,” Dan Ives, an analyst at Wedbush Securities, which covers both Twitter and Tesla, said in a research note. He estimated that there was a “60%+ chance” that Musk would end up walking away from the deal and paying the $1 billion breakup fee.
Musk made an offer to buy Twitter for $54.20 per share on April 14. Twitter shares have since fallen and are now down just over 8%, closing at $37.39 on Monday.
To fund the acquisition, Musk pledged some of his shares in Tesla, which have fallen by about a third since the deal was announced.