By Jack Phillips
Elon Musk on Monday provided an update on whether he will still purchase Twitter, coming three days after he questioned the number of bot accounts on the social media platform.
While speaking at the “All In” summit, Musk said that a deal for Twitter is “not out of the question” but he suggested it be at a lower price.
“The more questions I ask, the more my concerns grow,” Musk said regarding the number of automated and bot accounts on Twitter. He then estimated that about 20 percent of all Twitter accounts are fake users, according to a live-streamed video of his remarks that were posted online.
When asked about whether the deal could be done at a lower price, he replied: “Maybe,” adding that he “was relying on public filings.”
It came as Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal issued a lengthy response to Musk’s allegations about bots, according to a series of Twitter posts.
“First, let me state the obvious: spam harms the experience for real people on Twitter, and therefore can harm our business,” Agrawal said Monday. “As such, we are strongly incentivized to detect and remove as much spam as we possibly can, every single day. Anyone who suggests otherwise is just wrong.”
Twitter, he added, suspends more than 500,000 spam accounts each day and locks out millions of accounts that are suspected of being spam on a weekly basis if they cannot be verified via means such as a phone number.
“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),” Agrawal continued Monday. “Externally, it’s not even possible to know which accounts are counted as monetizable daily active users on any given day,” he also wrote.
Agrawal, however, acknowledged Twitter isn’t perfect at dealing with spam.
“This is why, after all the spam removal I talked about above,” he wrote, “we know some still slips through. We measure this internally.”
Musk, as part of his response, responded with a feces emoji, although it’s not exactly clear what he meant.
“So how do advertisers know what they’re getting for their money?” he wrote to Agrawal. “This is fundamental to the financial health of Twitter.”
On May 13, Musk threw the reported $44 billion deal into question after he posted that it’s “temporarily on hold” due to reports about automated bot accounts. But later, he wrote he’s “still committed” to acquiring the company and taking it private.
After Musk purchased a significant number of Twitter shares—9 percent—in early April, the company’s stock prices have lost all their gains as of Monday. Shares are trading at $38.25—or the lowest closing price it’s had since April 1.