Musk: Twitter deal "cannot move forward"
Elon Musk is exploiting suspicions that Twitter's user base contains more bots than the firm claims.
At 3:32 a.m. ET Tuesday, Elon Musk tweeted that his bid to buy Twitter "cannot move forward" unless CEO Parag Agrawal presents proof that less than 5% of users are bots or spam accounts.
Analysts say Musk is exploiting suspicions that Twitter's user base contains more bots than the firm claims to either back out of the transaction or negotiate a lower price, particularly because Twitter's stock price has plunged amid a broader market downturn.
Replying to an article that suggested he "may be looking for a better Twitter deal," Musk tweeted that "20% fake/spam accounts, while four times what Twitter claims, could be higher."
"My offer was based on Twitter’s SEC filings being accurate. Yesterday, Twitter’s CEO publicly refused to show proof of <5%. This deal cannot move forward until he does," he wrote.
Musk has been publicly reversing his initial $44 million buyout bid since Friday when he tweeted that the acquisition was "temporarily on hold" while he sought additional information about the platform's spam accounts. Even before that, Wall Street was pessimistic that the purchase would go through.
Deals of this magnitude and notoriety are rarely worked out openly in such a weird manner. However, given Elon Musk's reputation for spontaneity and audacity, few observers are surprised at this point. Some are even questioning whether the entire takeover effort is more than Musk mocking Twitter.
Read next: Musk second-thoughts Twitter
Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal launched a lengthy Twitter thread on Monday defending the company's spam policy and describing how it handles the issue. Musk responded with a "poop" emoji.
What are they trying to say?
Even though the social media giant's staff is scared, Twitter officials are attempting to respond as though business is as usual.
On Friday, Twitter chairman Bret Taylor responded to Musk's tweet about the deal being temporarily on hold by tweeting: "We remain committed to our agreement."
Agrawal fired two of the company's senior executives and halted hiring last Thursday as part of an attempt to be more fiscally responsible.
He acknowledged the move Friday after Elon said the deal was on pause, tweeting: "While I expect the deal to close, we need to be prepared for all scenarios and always do what’s right for Twitter. I’m accountable for leading and operating Twitter, and our job is to build a stronger Twitter every day.”