Elon Musk puts brakes on Twitter takeover

Elon Musk has put the brakes on his $44 billion deal to acquire social media company Twitter, while he waits for data on the number of fake accounts on the platform.

News of the takeover being put on temporary hold prompted the share price to tumble by 17.7% to $37.10 in premarket trading.

“Twitter deal temporarily on hold pending details supporting calculation that spam/fake accounts do indeed represent less than 5% of users,” Musk announced on Twitter.

He referred to a story reported on by Reuters from 2 May which inferred Twitter had estimated that the number of false accounts on the platform represented less than 5% of its monetisable daily active users during Q1.

It recorded 229 million users who were served advertising.

“This 5% metric has been out for some time. He clearly would have already seen it… So it may well be more part of the strategy to lower the price,” Hargreaves Lansdown analyst Susannah Streeter told Reuters.

“It’s going to be highly frustrating for many in the company given that a number of senior executives have already been laid off.”

Removing spam bots is one of Musk’s highest priorities once the takeover has gone through.

He has also been critical of Twitter’s moderation policy and announced he wants Twitter’s algorithm to prioritise tweets to be public and was against too much power on the service to corporations that advertise.

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