Elon Musk, Parag Agrawal publicly argue about Twitter's spam problem

After Elon Musk questioned Twitter's spam bot report and threatened to withdraw his bid to buy the firm, CEO Parag Agrawal publicly addressed his worries.

Elon Musk, Parag Agrawal publicly argue about Twitter's spam problem

Tuesday May 17, 2022,

3 min Read

Speaking at a conference in Miami, Elon Musk said Twitter's claim that only 5 percent of monetisable daily users (mDAUs) were spam bots had troubled him, and caused him to think about changing his bid. In response, CEO Parag Agrawal posted a lengthy thread on Twitter addressing the issue.

According to Reuters, Musk was speaking at the All-In Summit 2022 conference, saying that "the more questions I ask, the more my concerns grow" with regard to Twitter. He said that he believes Twitter's spam problem is being underreported by four times, and that he believes spam bots probably make close to 20 percent of users.

When asked if this could affect the deal, or change his bidding price, Musk said,

"I mean, it's not out of the question." He also said, "you can't pay the same price for something that is much worse than they claimed."

In response, Agrawal posted a lengthy Twitter thread addressing the problem. After acknowledging that spam is a problem, he detailed that it is a far more "dynamic" problem with malicious actors constantly changing their tactics to avoid Twitter's efforts to stop them.

However, Agrawal did say that Twitter suspends over half-a-million bots everyday, and defended the company's practices and algorithms to determine the percentage of spam bots. He said that their formula is applied every quarter, implying that the number has nothing to do with Musk's bid.

Finally, Agrawal stated that Twitter cannot have these numbers verified due to private information used in the algorithm, but that these numbers and calculations had been shared with Musk beforehand.

While Musk responded to both Agrawal's thread and various users with valid concerns, including how advertisers are to know about the performance of their ads with this algorithm and why this private information can't be made public, his most striking response was typical of his reputation on Twitter.

If Musk were to withdraw or attempt to change his bid in any way, he would be liable to pay the company a reverse termination fee of $1 billion among other difficulties in halting the process.

In response to Musk's comments at the conference, Twitter's stock price had dropped to $37.39 per share. That is lower than the price the day before Musk announced his initial Twitter share purchase in March, and significantly lower than the $54.20 price per share he has pledged in his bid for the social media platform.

Edited by Megha Reddy