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In order to determine how many of Twitter’s user accounts could be automated, Tesla CEO and potential Twitter owner Elon Musk is carrying out his own statistics project to get a real answer.
Musk, who put his $44 billion deal to acquire the social media platform on hold yesterday after questioning Twitter’s reports of a less than 5 percent bot concentration on its site, is using his own methods to get more realistic data. It is obvious he does not think Twitter’s data is very accurate, as he detailed in a Tweet on Friday.
“Twitter deal temporarily on hold pending details supporting calculation that spam/fake accounts do indeed represent less than 5% of users,” Musk said. He later confirmed he is still committed to the acquisition.
To get an estimate that would give him more insight on the platform’s bot population, Musk said his team is carrying out an experiment that will likely gauge a better representation of how many bots are being used to push scam/spam accounts on Twitter.
“To find out, my team will do a random sample of 100 followers of @twitter. I invite others to repeat the same process and see what they discover.”
Any sensible random sampling process is fine. If many people independently get similar results for % of fake/spam/duplicate accounts, that will be telling.
I picked 100 as the sample size number, because that is what Twitter uses to calculate <5% fake/spam/duplicate.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 14, 2022
Musk could be using the strategy to perhaps leverage a better deal for the platform, as he offered $54.20 per share for Twitter when he initially made his offer in April. Shares closed at $40.72 on Friday, down nearly ten percent on news that Musk was planning to temporarily put the acquisition deal on hold.
Analysts following the tech sector may believe Musk’s initial valuation of Twitter may have been based on different estimations of bot and human account concentration, which may skew the valuation of the platform to an amount that is less than Musk’s initial offer.
“This is probably a negotiation tactic on behalf of Elon,” Ton Sacconaghi of Bernstein said. “The market has come down a lot. He’s probably using the guise of true active users as a negotiation ploy.”
Other analysts believe the $54.20 price per share that Musk initially offered may be something he is no longer willing to consider, and may try to negotiate with Twitter brass on a better price.
“$54.20 off the table in eyes of Street. Lower price for deal or he walks,” Wedbush’s Dan Ives said. “Citing bots/spam (well-known issue) to suspend deal is like not buying a house last minute because of the handle on the freezer in the basement.”
If either Musk or Twitter wish to walk away from the deal, the canceling party must pay a $1 billion fee to the other. However, it won’t be that simple. According to CNBC, Twitter could sue Musk for billions in damages if he were to abandon the deal simply because he feels he overpaid.
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