Takeover of Twitter | Elon Musk wants guarantees on fake accounts

(New York) Elon Musk once again conditions his takeover of Twitter on guarantees on the bots and spam messages: the Tesla boss said the operation would not be completed until he had proof that less than 5% of the accounts were fake.

Posted at 7:59

France Media Agency

However, Twitter seems to be preparing for an acquisition, the company having filed a document with the American stock market policeman and ensuring that it undertakes “to complete the transaction at the agreed price and conditions as quickly as possible”.

“The executive director of Twitter yesterday refused to prove that less than 5% of the accounts were fake,” tweeted Mr. Musk, who has nearly 94 million subscribers on the social network, on Tuesday. “Until he does, the transaction cannot go forward,” he added.

Mr. Musk refers to the explanations provided on Monday by Parag Agrawal, the boss of Twitter, on the measures taken to fight against spam and fake accounts.

Mr. Agrawal had notably indicated that Twitter’s figures, according to which less than 5% of the platform’s accounts are fake, were “based on multiple reproductions of human analysis of accounts, which are randomly selected”.

The whimsical entrepreneur replied with an emoji in the shape of a poo.

“How can advertisers know what they are really paying? “, he had also tweeted in reaction to the thread of Mr. Agrawal. “This is a fundamental question for the financial health of Twitter. »

Speaking by video at a conference on Monday, Musk estimated that fake accounts accounted for at least 20% of Twitter users, according to Bloomberg and tweets from people present at the event.

Mr. Musk had already announced last Friday to put on hold the acquisition of the company, which he said he wanted to buy for 44 billion dollars, due to the lack of clarity on the false accounts. He corrected the situation a few hours later, stating that he was “still committed” to carrying out the operation.

“20% fake accounts and spam is four times what Twitter claims, but the real number could be *much* higher,” Musk tweeted on Tuesday.


Since filing his takeover bid, which was accepted by the social network’s board, Mr. Musk has promised to rid Twitter of spam, better authenticate users and increase transparency.

On Friday, he said his team would choose a random sample of 100 followers from the official Twitter account to make sure they were real accounts or not.

“I invite others to do the same and see what they discover,” he suggested before encouraging platform users to select any account with a significant number of subscribers. .

According to an estimate released Friday by software company SparkToro, 19.42% of Twitter accounts are fake or spam.

SparkToro uses different criteria to assess the authenticity of an account, including its activity over the last 120 days, its creation date, its number of tweets or its number of subscribers.

The company acknowledges that its methodology is likely different from that used by Twitter. According to the tool she offers on her site, more than 70% of Mr. Musk’s followers are fake accounts.

Contacted by AFP, Twitter did not react immediately to the last projection of the whimsical entrepreneur.

The group’s share fell about 1% in electronic trading before the opening of Wall Street.

According to Dan Ives of Wedbush Securities, Mr. Musk’s new tweet will weigh on the company’s stock price “because the probability of the transaction taking place is not very good now and there is in our opinion more 60% chance that Mr. Musk will drop the deal and pay severance pay. »

Another possibility, according to Mr. Ives, is that the boss of Tesla is trying to negotiate a discount on his purchase price using the argument of fake accounts as a pretext.

“It seems to us more like the excuse of the dog who ate the homework to withdraw from the transaction or to lower the price,” notes the analyst.

For its part, Twitter called on its shareholders to vote in favor of the takeover by Mr. Musk for $54.20 per share in cash at an upcoming special general meeting, in a document filed Tuesday with the Wall Street regulator. , the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).