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The latest major hurdle facing Elon Musk’s Twitter acquisition

Elon Musk’s Twitter acquisition seems to have taken another turn, and now it seems less likely than ever that the Tesla CEO will go through with his bid.

On Tuesday, Musk replied to a tweet shared by Twitter account @Teslarati. The tweet shared a link to a Teslarati article titled “Musk seeks Twitter deal discount, believes 20 percent of accounts are spam.”

Musk replied to this tweet with what appeared to be a clear ultimatum, saying that the deal wouldn’t happen unless he was shown proof of Twitter’s estimate of fake and spam accounts, which Twitter reported to the SEC as less than 5%.

20% fake/spam accounts, while 4 times what Twitter claims, could be *much* higher.

My offer was based on Twitter’s SEC filings being accurate.

Yesterday, Twitter’s CEO publicly refused to show proof of <5%.

This deal cannot move forward until he does.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 17, 2022

Musk’s apparent ultimatum comes the day after Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal issued a 15-tweet thread statement of his own in which he addressed the recent concerns about Twitter’s reported spam account percentage estimate. Agrawal’s tweets essentially defended Twitter’s reported estimate of less than 5%, explained how Twitter’s estimate was calculated, and also asserted that external estimates by third parties weren’t possible due to the fact that Twitter “uses both public and private data” to make these estimates, the latter of which is not shared by Twitter.

Agrawal also went on to say that its percentage estimate is based on accounts they count as mDAUs (monetizable daily active users) and that for third parties wanting to calculate external estimates, “it’s not even possible” for them “to know which accounts are counted as mDAUs on any given day.

Unfortunately, we don’t believe that this specific estimation can be performed externally, given the critical need to use both public and private information (which we can’t share). Externally, it’s not even possible to know which accounts are counted as mDAUs on any given day.

— Parag Agrawal (@paraga) May 16, 2022

Musk did reply to Agrawal’s tweets with two tweets of his own: the first which featured a single poop emoji and the second which asked a question about advertisers.

Musk’s Tuesday morning tweet seems to demand that Agrawal show “proof” of Twitter’s fake and spam account percentage estimate in order for Musk’s acquisition of the bird app to “move forward.” But it is unclear at this time, what sort of proof Musk is looking for. In fact, Agrawal’s tweet thread said that Twitter already “shared an overview of the estimation process with Elon a week ago.”

There are LOTS of details that are very important underneath this high-level description. We shared an overview of the estimation process with Elon a week ago and look forward to continuing the conversation with him, and all of you.

— Parag Agrawal (@paraga) May 16, 2022

And so the question is, what was in that overview and why wasn’t that enough to calm concerns about the percentage of spam and fake accounts on Twitter?

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Anita George
Anita has been a technology reporter since 2013 and currently writes for the Computing section at Digital Trends. She began…
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