In context: The news cycle these days is awash with stories of Elon Musk's legal battle with Twitter following his abandoned acquisition of the company, but the world's richest man wasn't the first to try and buy Twitter; Disney was all set to purchase the firm in 2016. It ultimately decided not to make an offer, though the change of heart wasn't entirely related to its number of fake accounts. However, Disney's former CEO says a "substantial portion" of Twitter users aren't real, which should please Elon Musk.
Disney was deep in discussions with Twitter about a possible takeover in late 2016. Reports claimed other massive firms had also shown an interest, but Google, Apple, and, surprisingly, Disney eventually announced they would not be bidding for Twitter.
A few years later, former Disney CEO Bob Iger revealed it was the "nastiness" permeating Twitter that put the company off completing the purchase. He recently elaborated on what happened at Vox Media's Code conference.
Iger said that although Disney saw Twitter as a potentially "phenomenal" distribution platform, it was decided that the site's infamous rampant toxicity and "hate speech" would have been too much of a problem for the family-oriented brand.
"...you have to look, of course, at all the hate speech [on Twitter] and potential to do as much harm as good. We're in the business of manufacturing fun at Disney—of doing nothing but good," Iger said.
Another interesting part of the conversation covered Twitter's fake accounts. Elon Musk says he abandoned his acquisition of Twitter because of the site's claim that just 5% of its users aren't real—he believes it's closer to 20%—and that Twitter is hiding the true figures. It appears the former Disney boss is in partial agreement with Musk on this one.
"Interestingly enough, because I read the news these days, we did look very carefully at all of the Twitter users — I guess they're called users? — and we at that point estimated with some of Twitter's help that a substantial portion — not a majority — were not real," said Iger.
"I don't remember the number but we discounted the value heavily. But that was built into our economics. Actually, the deal that we had was pretty cheap."
Musk's legal team is currently pleading with a judge to allow a whistleblower's claims to be added to his lawsuit. Twitter continues to allege that Musk is suffering from buyer's remorse after failing to perform due diligence. The company argues that his belief World War III was about to start also put him off the deal.