Elon Musk sparred with Twitter Inc. CEO Parag Agrawal over the prevalence of spambots on the platform, with the company’s would-be owner saying the number is far higher than acknowledged.
Musk, who has agreed to buy Twitter for $44 billion, said last week that he was putting the deal “on hold” until he had more information about how the company measures bot accounts. The billionaire said Monday that he estimates at least 20% of Twitter accounts are actually spam. In a Twitter thread, meanwhile, Agrawal said the number is less than 5% when measuring daily users—a figure the company has previously cited in quarterly filings.
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Musk tweeted over the weekend that he was going to run his own test to determine the number of bots on Twitter by sampling 100 random accounts that follow the @Twitter handle. He then tweeted that he picked that sample size because it’s the same sample size Twitter uses to determine its own bot prevalence.
Agrawal contradicted that claim Monday, saying Twitter has human reviewers look at “thousands of accounts” to determine the prevalence of bots, but added that he couldn’t share more specifics because of privacy concerns. “Unfortunately, we don’t believe that this specific estimation can be performed externally, given the critical need to use both public and private information,” he wrote.
He added that Twitter shared this methodology with Musk last week.