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What just happened? Elon Musk says his $44 billion acquisition of Twitter could still go through, on the condition that Twitter shows exactly how it counts the number of fake accounts on the platform. The Tesla boss has long insisted that the company lies about the number of bots on the site, and he is now challenging CEO Parag Agrawal to "a public debate" on the issue.
The latest incident in Musk/Twitter saga saw the world's richest person tweet that he is willing to complete the deal for the original $54.20 per share price—Twitter's share price is currently $42.52. All the company needs to do is provide its method of sampling 100 accounts and how they're confirmed to be real.
Twitter has long said that less than 5% of accounts on the site are fake. Musk, however, believes the actual number is more like 20%. He says the issue is what derailed his takeover bid, and a recent filing claims the company purposely hides the true bot figures. Twitter, on the other hand, claims Musk is simply trying to weasel out of the deal or renegotiate it for a much lower price.
"If Twitter simply provides their method of sampling 100 accounts and how they're confirmed to be real, the deal should proceed on original terms. However, if it turns out that their SEC filings are materially false, then it should not," Musk tweeted in a reply to Cybersecurity researcher Andrea Stroppa's summary of his countersuit against Twitter.
I hereby challenge @paraga to a public debate about the Twitter bot percentage.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 6, 2022
Let him prove to the public that Twitter has <5% fake or spam daily users!
Not wanting to leave things there, Musk followed up with a challenge for Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal, asking for a public debate to prove the fake bot count really is as low as Twitter claims. The billionaire also tweeted a poll to his 102.8 million followers asking if they believed less than 5% of platform users were spam. Almost 65% voted for "lmaooo no."
Less than 5% of Twitter daily users are fake/spam— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 6, 2022
Musk's lawyers recently said that using a tool called Botometer, designed by Indiana University to measure inauthentic accounts, analysts proved Twitter was lying about the number of fakes on the platform. Twitter pointed out that Botometer at one point identified Elon Musk's own account as a bot with 80% certainty.
Expect the insults and allegations between Musk and Twitter to last for a while. The trial date is set for October, and the platform is reportedly "willing to go to war" if that is what's needed to complete the deal.