Billionaire Elon Musk has had a spat with Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal over spam bots, Bloomberg reported Monday (May 16).
Musk, who could be the next owner of the social media giant if his purchase eventually goes through, said there are more spam bots on the platform than the company acknowledges.
Musk has recently put his buy, for $44 billion, on hold until he could get more information about the spam accounts.
“Twitter deal temporarily on hold pending details supporting calculation that spam/fake accounts do indeed represent less than 5% of users,” Musk tweeted.
On Monday, Musk reportedly said he thinks around “20% of Twitter accounts” are spam bots.
Agrawal contested that, saying the company’s estimation was actually around 5% when talking about those who access Twitter every day.
Musk tweeted over the weekend of his intentions to run an independent test on how many bots there were. He said he would do this by sampling “100 random accounts” following the @Twitter handle. He said that sample size was picked because Twitter itself used the same test to determine the same result.
However, Agrawal also disagreed with that, saying the company has actual human reviewers look at “thousands of accounts.” He said he couldn’t share any more because of privacy concerns.
This issue has become an important flashpoint for Twitter management and investors, because it could disrupt the takeover deal that Musk initiated in late April.
Agrawal has said measuring spam accounts is a thorny issue, because some accounts that appear to be bots are real people, or vice versa. In addition, Twitter does allow bots on the service — so it’s more complex than disallowing all of them.
Musk didn’t seem deterred by those arguments, responding by asking if the company “had tried calling” every user. Then he responded with a “poop” emoji.
PYMNTS wrote that Musk’s announcement that his buying of Twitter was on hold had caused Twitter shares to fall 18% as of May 13.
Musk’s vision for Twitter includes making the platform more inclusive to free speech, he has claimed.