Elon Musk threatens to scrap Twitter deal in dispute over spam accounts

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Tesla chief Elon Musk speaking at a conference   (TED Conferences, LLC/AFP via Get)
Tesla chief Elon Musk speaking at a conference (TED Conferences, LLC/AFP via Get)

Elon Musk has threatened to scrap his takeover of Twitter after accusing the company of refusing to give him information about its spam bot accounts.

The Tesla chief executive offered to buy the site for £35bn in April but he is now warring with its chief executive Parag Agrawal over the number of fake accounts on the social media platform.

Twitter has said five per cent of its 229 million accounts are bots but Musk has claimed he is convinced the figure is “much higher” at around 20 per cent.

Musk threatened to walk away from the deal in a letter sent to the social media giant on Monday.

His lawyers claimed he has repeatedly asked for the information since May 9 - around one month after his takover approach - so he could evaluate how many of the company’s accounts are fake.

They added Twitter has only offered to provide details about its testing methods which they have said is not enough information and is “tantamount to refusing Mr Musk’s data requests”.

Musk wants data so he can do his own verification.

The lawyers said, based on Twitter’s latest correspondence, Musk believes the company is resisting and thwarting his information rights under the April merger agreement.

“This is a clear material breach of Twitter’s obligations under the merger agreement and Mr. Musk reserves all rights resulting therefrom, including his right not to consummate the transaction and his right to terminate the merger agreement,” the letter says.

Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal has said the company has consistently estimated fewer than 5 per cent of Twitter accounts are fake.

The firm has disclosed its bot estimates to the US Securities and Exchange Commission for years while also cautioning that its estimate might be too low.

Shares of Twitter fell by more than 5 per cent after the markets opened on Monday.

The Standard has reached out to Twitter representatives for further comment.

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