Elon Musk $44bn deal to buy Twitter in doubt over true number of fake accounts

A disagreement with the present owners of Twitter over the number of fake and spam accounts on the social media platform could be putting Elon Musk's $44bn buy-out at risk.

Elon tweeted that the deal "cannot move forward" unless Twitter backed up its claims that less than 5% of accounts are fake or spam accounts.

Twitter's boss, Parag Agrawal, has previously defended the firm's estimates on spam accounts to which Mr Musk responded with a poo emoji, later repeating his claim that Twitter was underestimating the figure.

Analysts have speculated that Mr Musk may be looking for ways to renegotiate the price of the deal or walk away after he said he could seek a lower price for Twitter at a tech conference.

He agreed the $44bn (£34.5bn) deal to buy Twitter with its board in April, but last week Mr Musk said the deal was "on hold" while he sought details about fake accounts.

On Tuesday, Mr Musk tweeted that his offer for the firm was based on Twitter's disclosures to regulators about fake accounts "being accurate".

Mr Musk said Twitter boss Parag Agrawal had "publicly refused to show proof" that fewer than 5% of its accounts were fake, and said the deal "cannot move forward" until Mr Agrawal does show proof.

Mr Musk's tweet then appeared to be deleted.

The billionaire, who also runs carmaker Tesla, has put the number of fake accounts at 20% or more.

Mr Agrawal defended the firm's count, saying he would discuss the issue "with the benefit of data, facts, and context".

He said the company used a combination of public and private data to determine which accounts were real, reviewing random samples every few months. He added that Twitter suspended roughly 500,000 suspect accounts daily and locked millions more.

The margins of error are well within its estimate of spam accounts representing less than 5% of daily users, Mr Agrawal said.

He said the firm had shared an "overview" of its process with Mr Musk last week.

"We… look forward to continuing the conversation with him, and all of you," he said,

Elon Musk has doubled down on his position that his deal to buy the social network is on ice while the actual amount of spambots and accounts operating on it is investigated.

If either party in the Twitter deal walks away now, there's a $1bn termination fee.

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