Elon Musk said in an early Friday morning tweet that his $44 billion USD acquisition of Twitter was “temporarily on hold” as the Tesla and SpaceX CEO tried to verify Twitter’s claims that bot accounts made up less than 5% of the social media platform’s monetizable daily active users during Q1 2022.
Even though Musk clarified that he was “still committed” to the acquisition in a follow-up tweet, his original remarks spurred many to theorize that the electric vehicle magnate’s public concerns over the number of bot accounts on Twitter could be a precursor to the deal falling through or the beginnings of an attempt to renegotiate a lower price for the company.
In another follow-up tweet on Friday evening, Musk revealed his team would “do a random sample of 100 followers of @twitter,” the company’s own Twitter account, to see if its estimates for the number of bot accounts on the site actually hold up — reports Business Insider.
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 …
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 14, 2022
Twitter’s official account has more than 61 million followers, which is a healthy chunk of user accounts to choose from. “I invite others to repeat the same process and see what they discover,” Musk added.
The “100” figure might seem small for a sample size when we’re talking about a platform that had 217 million users at the end of 2021, but it isn’t arbitrary. In fact, Musk said he “picked 100 as the sample size number, because that is what Twitter uses to calculate” its own estimate.
When one user asked if he had thought about this issue before he agreed to the $44 billion deal, Musk said he “relied upon the accuracy of Twitter’s public filings.”
Just how many active bot accounts exist and operate on Twitter is becoming increasingly material to Musk as he prepares to take over the company.
Last week, a leaked investor pitch deck full of details on Musk’s ambitions for Twitter revealed big plans to almost quintuple the platform’s user count to 931 million by 2028. Making that happen will be an even taller task if a sizeable chunk of Twitter’s current users comprises spam/fake accounts, to begin with.
If the Musk-Twitter deal falls through, the celebrity billionaire won’t get a clean break and will instead walk away with a $1 billion-shaped hole in his personal wealth, from a termination fee he previously agreed to.