Citing the unknown number of fake accounts on Twitter, billionaire Elon Musk says he's put his high-profile purchase of the site on hold, later adding that he is "still committed to acquisition".
Under the terms of the deal, if either Twitter or Mr Musk walk away they must pay the other side a termination fee of $1bn. Twitter reported more than two weeks ago that fake accounts accounted for fewer than 5% of its daily active users during the first three months of this year. However, the company said in determining the amount of spam accounts, "it applied significant judgment, so our estimation of false or spam accounts may not accurately represent the actual number of such accounts".
That's he already seems to be looking for a way out doesn't bode well for the sale. He made such a fuss about his other reasons for buying Twitter, so getting cold feet over the exact percentage of spambots suggests he's realized he's out of his depth. Reuters plainly reports that it doesn't make much sense.
It points out, though, that Twitter's stock is already sliding on the news, implying that he might just be trying to get it cheaper through pure shitposting. Such bald manipulation! Nothing's stopping him, so why not?
The estimated number of spam accounts on the microblogging site has held steady below 5% since 2013, according to regulatory filings from Twitter, prompting some analysts to question why Musk was raising it now. "This 5% metric has been out for some time. He clearly would have already seen it… So it may well be more part of the strategy to lower the price," said Susannah Streeter, an analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.