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Elon Musk sent a poo emoji to the CEO of Twitter after reaching an agreement to buy the company, which he now believes he could get for a lower price.
The SpaceX CEO agreed to purchase the social media platform in a $44 billion (£35.4bn) deal announced on 25 April, but during an appearance at the All-In Summit in Miami this week he said the completion of the deal depends on Twitter’s response to his concerns about fake accounts.
Musk has already announced the deal is on hold pending details about the number of fake accounts on the platform, and at the summit he claimed Twitter was 'refusing' to offer a 'logical explanation for the number of sort of fake or spam accounts'.
The company has repeatedly stated that fake or spam accounts make up less than 5 percent of users; a figure Musk cited as he commented: "Like if you said, OK, I’m going to agree to buy your house. You say the house has less than 5 percent termites. That’s an acceptable number. But if it turns out the right per cent is 90 percent termites, that’s not OK.”
Musk said reducing his agreed offer of $54.20 (£43) per share wouldn’t be 'out of the question' if he moves ahead with the deal, which has a $1bn (£805bn) break fee if he chooses to walk away.
Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal sought to defend Twitter's handling of bots and fake accounts in a thread posted on Twitter on Monday (16 May), stressing the company is 'strongly incentivized to detect and remove as much spam' as possible and claiming: "Anyone who suggests otherwise is just wrong."
First, let me state the obvious: spam harms the experience for real people on Twitter, and therefore can harm our business. As such, we are strongly incentivized to detect and remove as much spam as we possibly can, every single day. Anyone who suggests otherwise is just wrong.— Parag Agrawal (@paraga) May 16, 2022
Agrawal offered an explanation for how Twitter seeks to identify bots, saying it uses 'multiple human reviews... of thousands of accounts, that are sampled at random, consistently over time' and as a result estimated spam accounts made up 'well under 5%' of users over the past four quarters.
"The error margins on our estimates give us confidence in our public statements each quarter," he added.
The CEO said the estimation couldn't be performed externally due to 'the critical need to use both public and private information', but Musk made clear he wasn't satisfied with this claim as he responded to Agrawal's tweet with a smiley poo emoji.
💩— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 16, 2022
He then added: "So how do advertisers know what they’re getting for their money? This is fundamental to the financial health of Twitter."
Bringing his thread to a close, Agrawal claimed Twitter had shared an overview of the estimation process with Musk and that the company looked forward to 'continuing the conversation with him'.
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