Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal and Elon Musk debate on bots as the future of the social media platform is on hold. Agrawal outlined Twitter’s approach to spam accounts and the obstacles it faces in dealing with them in a series of tweets on Monday.
Every day, Twitter suspends “over half a million spam accounts,” according to Agrawal. He reaffirmed Twitter’s long-held estimate that less than 5% of its daily active users are spam accounts, which Musk mentioned on Friday when declaring that his $44 billion proposals to buy Twitter were “temporarily on hold.”
That estimate, according to Agrawal, is based on “multiple human reviews… of thousands of accounts” picked at random, but it’s impossible to know which accounts are counted on any given day. While Twitter feels its estimations are “reasonable,” the measures were not independently validated, and the actual number of bogus or spam accounts could be greater.
Musk responded to Agrawal’s first 13 tweets with a feces emoji, which reflected the transaction’s peculiar and highly online character.
Musk then asked a more thought-provoking inquiry. “How do advertisers know what they’re getting for their money?” you might wonder. Musk asked “This is fundamental to the financial health of Twitter,” he added.
Musk has been vocal about bots and spam accounts on Twitter, describing bitcoin spambots as the “single most aggravating problem” on the network. Anyone who has seen the answers to Musk’s tweets knows that they are full of such con artists, many of whom try to profit from Musk’s fame.
However, other analysts believe that the world’s richest man is leveraging the bot issue to lower the price at which he would have to purchase Twitter, whether as a usual bargaining ploy or out of necessity.