Elon Musk randomly tests Twitter accounts to find true number of fake spam accounts

Elon Musk randomly tests Twitter accounts to find true number of fake spam accounts

Elon Musk explained Friday night how he will determine the number of spam and fake accounts on Twitter, hours after he said his bid to acquire the platform was on hold due to the company’s possible under-reporting of bots.

Musk, 50, wrote on Twitter that he calculated the actual presence of spam on the platform by analyzing a random sample of 100 followers of popular accounts.

“Ignore the first 1000 followers and then pick every 10th. I’m open to better ideas,” he said.

“Any reasonable sampling method is fine. If many people independently get similar results for % fake/spam/duplicate accounts, it will be instructive,” he wrote.

“I chose 100 as the sample size number because Twitter uses it to calculate <5% fake/spam/duplicates."

Elon Musk Twitter
Elon Musk previously announced that his deal to buy Twitter is on hold amid allegations that the company understates the number of bots on the site.
AFP via Getty Images

Answering questions from Twitter users after withdrawing the $44 billion deal, the Tesla tycoon said “pending details supporting calculation that spam/fake accounts actually represent less than 5% of users”.

Musk sent shares of Twitter down more than 25 percent in premarket trading as investors suspected he was using fake accounts to go out of business.

The stock price partially recovered from $34 to about $41 after Musk told followers he was “still interested in acquisitions,” but was still down 10 percent from Thursday’s close.

Tesla shares, which Musk could use to fund the Twitter deal, went the opposite way, rising 6 percent to $770 on Friday. They were still well below recent four-digit highs.

The net worth of the world’s richest man had fallen from $240 billion to $232 billion this week amid Wall Street’s roller coaster ride.

Musk was previously investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission for tweeting content that could affect Tesla’s stock price without the permission of a company attorney.

The SEC also investigated Musk’s belated disclosure of his large involvement with Twitter. He currently owns 9.2 percent of the company’s stock, making it the largest shareholder.

A 2017 academic study found that up to 15 percent of active English-speaking accounts were bots. Researchers recently claimed Twitter is now better at catching them.

Musk has made vetting every human Twitter user a tenant of his plan for the platform once his acquisition is complete.

With mail wires

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