Elon Musk suggested on Monday that a drop in the purchase price of Twitter might be justified, after he started a controversy with the group's chief executive, Parag Agrawal, over the extent of spam on the social network, according to a participant in a private conference where Elon Musk was speaking.
The title Twitter accentuated its losses at the end of the afternoon following comments by Elon Musk, during a conference in Miami closed to the press. The title ended down 8.1% at $37.39, after having already tumbled 9.6% on Friday.
Elon Musk, who promised to acquire the social media network for $54.2 per title, $44 billion in total, suspended his offer on Friday. "The Twitter agreement is temporarily suspended pending details supporting the calculation that spam / fake accounts actually represent less than 5% of users," tweeted the businessman, boss of Tesla and SpaceX.
On Monday, Parag Agrawal tweeted that internal estimates of spam counts on the social media platform for the past four quarters were "well below 5%", reacting to repeated criticism from Elon Musk of how the company manages fictitious accounts.
Elon Musk, for his part, estimated at the Miami conference that he suspected bots – or automated accounts – represent around 20 to 25% of users, according to tweets from participants.
How many fake Twitter accounts?
The billionaire, who also owns Tesla, has pledged to change Twitter's content moderation practices, denouncing decisions such as the company's banning of former President Donald Trump's account as too aggressive, while promising to crack down on "spambots" on the platform.
Elon Musk called for tests to be carried out on random samples of Twitter users to identify bots and said he had yet seen "no" analysis showing that spam accounts accounted for less than 5 % of the user base.
He estimated on Sunday that “there is a certain chance that it is more than 90% of daily active users”. Independent researchers have estimated that 9-15% of millions of Twitter profiles are bots.
Twitter does not currently require users to register using their real identities and expressly allows automated profiles, parodies and pseudonyms.
It does, however, prohibit impersonation and spamming, and penalizes accounts when the company determines their purpose is to "deceive or manipulate others."