By: Zhihan Jiang
Since early May, Elon Musk has been questioning what percentage of Twitter’s accounts are bots versus humans. Twitter claims that bots make up less than 5% of users but has also denied Musk permission to check for himself.
When Twitter accepted the offer of 44 billion U.S. dollars for Musk to own Twitter, he replied with an enthusiastic tweet with one word and a clip from one of his interviews:
Yesss!! “Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy. And Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated, “said Mr. Musk. “I also want to make Twitter better than ever before by enhancing the product with new features, making algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots, and authenticating all humans. Twitter has tremendous potential – I look forward to working with the company and the rest of the users to unlock it.”
Now, his attitude is not quite the same. Musk believes that 20% of the accounts are bots, much more than the 5 percent that Twitter claims. Twitter claimed that they could not share private information, denying Musk the ability to check himself.
Lawyer Mike Ringler seems to have a different point of view. "As Twitter's prospective owner, Mr. Musk is clearly entitled to the requested data to enable him to prepare for transitioning Twitter's business to his ownership and to facilitate his transaction financing. To do both, he must have a complete and accurate understanding of the very core of Twitter's business model - its active user base," he wrote in the letter.
Some skeptics argue that Musk’s interest in bots is a distraction from what he’s really trying to do – walk out of the deal. The recent market turmoil has caused companies to lose billions in worth, causing Musk’s deal of 52.40 dollars per share look even more generous. Now, Twitter’s stocks are below 39 dollars.