Twitter is prepared to give in to Elon Musk’s latest demand and supply the billionaire with data on “spam bots”, after he threatened to walk away from buying the social media business if it refused.
- News that Twitter would comply with Mr Musk’s demands came via multiple reports including The Washington Post and New York Times
- Lawyers involved in the deal would not confirm the data sharing agreement
- Twitter also declined to confirm the claims, only adding it is continuing to “cooperatively” share information with Mr Musk
The news of the climb down came via multiple reports, which added that the Tesla chief executive would get a “firehose” of raw data on more than 500 million tweets posted every day.
It is thought the move will push forward Mr Musk’s agreed-to US$44 billion (more than $61 billion) acquisition of the platform.
Lawyers involved in the deal would not confirm the data sharing agreement.
Mr Musk made no comment on Twitter, although he has previously been vocal about various aspects of the deal.
Twitter declined to confirm the reports and pointed to a Monday statement in which the company said it is continuing to “cooperatively” share information with Mr Musk.
The billionaire, who struck a legally binding agreement to buy Twitter in April, contends that the deal can’t proceed unless the company provides more information about the prevalence of fake accounts on its platform.
He has argued, without presenting evidence, that Twitter has significantly underestimated the number of these “spam bots” — automated accounts that typically promote scams and misinformation — on its service.
AG to investigate ‘potential false reporting’
On Monday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton also announced an investigation into Twitter for allegedly failing to disclose the extent of its spam bot and fake accounts, saying his office would look into “potential false reporting” of bots on Twitter.
The Washington Post first reported Twitter’s plan to provide Mr Musk with full access to the data, citing a person familiar with the matter.
Other reports suggested the billionaire might only receive partial access.
Twitter’s reported offer could blunt Mr Musk’s attempts to use the spam bot issue to cast doubt on the deal’s future.
This week, lawyers for Mr Musk accused the company of refusing to surrender information about the true number of bot accounts on Twitter.
Mike Ringler, the Palo Alto, California, attorney who signed that Monday letter, told AP he was not at liberty to speak about the matter when reached on Wednesday afternoon.
Fake social media accounts have been problematic for years.
Advertisers rely on the number of users provided by social media platforms to determine where they will spend money.
Spam bots are also used to amplify messages and spread disinformation.
The problem of fake accounts is well-known to Twitter and its investors.
The company has disclosed its bot estimates to the US Securities and Exchange Commission for years, while also cautioning that its estimate might be too low.
Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal said Twitter has consistently estimated that fewer than 5 per cent of its accounts are spam.
But Mr Musk has disputed that figure, contending in a May tweet — without evidence — that 20 per cent or more of Twitter’s accounts are automated and not run by humans.