Elon Musk has suggested that a lower price for Twitter Inc may be appropriate as he and CEO Parag Agraval quarreled over the company’s spam accounts estimates on Monday, a private conference participant where Musk spoke said.
Shares of Twitter increased losses in the afternoon after Mask’s comments were made at a conference in Miami that was closed to the press.
Shares fell more than 8% to close at $ 37.39, down from a day before Musk revealed his stake in Twitter in early April, sowing doubts that the billionaire entrepreneur would continue to buy the company for 44 billions of dollars at an agreed price.
Earlier on Monday, Agraval tweeted that internal ratings of spam accounts on the social networking platform over the past four quarters were “significantly less than 5%,” in response to days of criticism by Mask regarding the company’s handling of fake accounts.
Twitter’s assessment, which has remained unchanged since 2013, cannot be reproduced externally, given the need to use both public and private information to determine whether an account is spam, he added.
Musk, who on Friday said the deal was “temporarily suspended” pending information about spam accounts, responded to Agraval’s defense of the company’s methodology with smileys.
“So how do advertisers know what they get for their money? This is fundamental to Twitter’s financial health, ”Musk wrote.
Shortly after his tweets, Musk told a conference in Miami that he suspected bots – or automated accounts – accounted for about 20% to 25% of users, according to participants’ tweets.
Musk has promised to change the practice of moderating content on Twitter, opposing decisions such as banning former President Donald Trump’s campaign as overly aggressive, while promising to crack down on “spam bots” on the platform.
Musk called for random tests of Twitter users to identify bots, and said he had not yet seen “any” analysis showing that spam accounts made up less than 5% of the user base.
On Sunday, Musk said that “there is a possibility that this may be more than 90% of daily active users.”
Independent researchers have estimated that between 9% and 15% of millions of Twitter profiles are bots.
Currently, Twitter does not require users to register using their real identities, and directly allows automated, parody and alias profiles in the service.
It prohibits impersonation and spam, and punishes accounts if the company determines that their goal is to “cheat or manipulate others,” engaging in fraud, coordinating abuse campaigns, or artificially exaggerating participation.
Comments Mask private audiences may add to concerns about disclosing to them information moving in the marketplace.
Musk, known for his candid Twitter posts, has a long history of clashes with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission; a recent U.S. judge accused him of trying to evade an agreement with the SEC that requires oversight of his Tesla tweets.