Elon Musk Says His Deal to Buy Twitter Is on Hold

The Tesla CEO dropped the bombshell on Friday morning, citing uncertainty about the number of fake accounts on the platform.
elon musk twitter bots
PHOTO: Theo Wargo/WireImage

Elon Musk announced on Friday morning that his deal to buy Twitter for $44 billion is “temporarily on hold.”

The Tesla CEO made the announcement on Twitter—where else? —and linked to a May 2 Reuters report that said Twitter had estimated that spam or fake accounts on its platform constituted less than 5 percent of its total number of users.

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“Twitter deal temporarily on hold pending details supporting calculation that spam/fake accounts do indeed represent less than 5% of users,” Musk tweeted on Friday.

Twitter admitted the figure it quoted was an estimate and that the number “could be higher.” Musk’s tweet suggests he has an issue with how Twitter calculated the 5 percent figure. An internal review by the company found that “fewer than 5%” of its daily users were false or spam accounts, Twitter said in a filing in early May. 

But the company didn’t give any detail on how it came up with the number, simply saying that it calculated the fake accounts by applying “significant judgment” without providing any further context, which appears to be what Musk is now looking for.

Musk’s uncertainty comes weeks after Twitter admitted it had been overcounting its daily user number for three straight years.

Since announcing the deal, Musk has said that one of his priorities as new CEO would be to rid the platform of bots and fake accounts. Speaking at the Met Gala earlier this month, Musk said: “I am definitely on the warpath. If somebody is operating a bot and troll army, then I’m definitely their enemy.”

The announcement about the deal being on hold, temporarily at least, is the latest setback to a deal announced in late April, and Musk’s tweet sent Twitter shares plummeting by almost 25 percent in pre-market trading on Friday morning.

Musk’s deal to buy Twitter came after a tumultuous few weeks that saw the SpaceX founder acquire a large portion of the company and initially agree to join its board of directors. He then reversed course, turning down the chance to join the board and instead launched a hostile takeover. 

Twitter’s board tried to poison the deal, but in late April announced it would accept Musk’s offer to buy the company for $54.20 per share in cash. Since that offer, the company’s share price has plummeted and its market capitalization has plummeted to over $9 billion below Musk’s $44 billion purchase price.