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What just happened? It appears that Elon Musk's $44 billion acquisition of Twitter could be in jeopardy. The world's richest person just announced that the deal is "temporarily on hold" until he has confirmation that spam and fake accounts on the site really do represent less than 5% of its userbase.
Musk tweeted the announcement earlier today along with a link to a Reuters report from May 2. The article revealed the statistic was in a company filing made to financial regulators. Twitter claimed that false or spam accounts represented fewer than 5% of its monetizable daily active users during the first quarter.
Still committed to acquisition— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 13, 2022
Musk never said precisely how he plans to validate Twitter's findings or why he doubts them. It could be related to recent revelations that Twitter overinflated monetizable daily active user (mDAU) counts between 2019 and 2021, something it claims was done in "error."
Musk followed the announcement with a tweet confirming he was still committed to the acquisition, but that hasn't stopped Twitter shares from falling about 15% on the back of the news while Tesla shares were up 6%.
If Musk did walk away from the deal, he would still have to pay a $1 billion break fee. Bill Gates would probably be happy; the ex-Microsoft boss believes Musk's free-speech beliefs could make Twitter worse.
Musk revealed some of his plans for Twitter last month. They include less moderation—he said he would reverse Donald Trump's ban from the site—and open-sourcing its algorithm. But one of his top priorities is eliminating the spam, spambots, and the bot armies that plague the platform.
Earlier this week, Musk was threatened by Dmitry Rogozin, the head of space agency Roscosmos, for supplying Starlink satellites to Ukraine. "If I die under mysterious circumstances, it's been nice knowin ya," the Tesla CEO joked.