Musk may lower Twitter offer as Agrawal addresses spam concerns again

Musk responded to the Twitter CEO's comments with a poo emoji.
Written by Julian Bingley, Contributor

Elon Musk has added extra spice to the Twitter buyout saga, with the billionaire again commenting on his concerns regarding the number of spam accounts on the social media site before claiming that he could lessen his $44 billion offer.

Twitter had previously claimed that fake or spam accounts made up fewer than 5% of its monetisable daily active users during the first quarter -- an estimate questioned by Musk. First reported by Bloomberg, the Tesla CEO on Monday told the All-In Summit in Miami that if the bot and spam issue proves to be worse than indicated by Twitter, a deal at a lower price point would potentially be tabled.

"It really depends on a lot of factors here. I'm still waiting for some sort of logical explanation for the number or sort of fake or spam accounts on Twitter. And Twitter is refusing to tell us. This seems like a strange thing," Musk said.

"Like if you said, 'Okay, I'm going to agree to buy your house'. You say the house has less than 5% termites. That's an acceptable number. But if it turns out it the right per cent is 90% termites, that's not okay," Musk added.

Musk raised further questions over the legitimacy of Twitter's bot estimation, questioning whether the user experience reflects the 95% legitimate user estimate made by the social media company.

Read: Elon Musk explains what he wants to change about Twitter

These concerns may be well founded, as SparkToro and Followerwonk's joint analysis of 44,058 randomly selected active public Twitter accounts found that 19.42% -- nearly four times Twitter's Q4 2021 estimate -- fit a "conservative definition of fake or spam accounts".

Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal yet again tackled the issue of spam users in a thread of tweets on Monday -- a thread that Musk responded to with a poo emoji.

Agrawal claimed that one of the primary challenges associated with addressing the spam issue includes removing bot accounts "without inadvertently suspending real people or adding unnecessary friction for real people when they use Twitter: None of us want to solve a captcha every time we use Twitter".

"Fighting spam is incredibly *dynamic*. The adversaries, their goals, and tactics evolve constantly -- often in response to our work! You can't build a set of rules to detect spam today, and hope they will still work tomorrow. They will not," Agrawal concluded.

The comments follow Twitter's firing of two top executives, with Agrawal allegedly telling a departing employee that he hopes to "take the team in a different direction" -- despite the company being on the cusp of a buyout.  

Meanwhile, Musk alerted his followers on Sunday with news that "Twitter legal just called to complain that I violated their NDA by revealing the bot check sample size is 100! This actually happened".

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