Musk Twitter buy pending | News, Sports, Jobs

DETROIT — Tesla billionaire Elon Musk has put his plan to buy Twitter on what he called a temporary “hold,” raising further doubts over whether it will go through with the $44 billion acquisition.

Musk tweeted early Friday that he wanted to identify the number of spam and fake accounts on the social media platform. He expressed his desire to fix the Twitter issue with “spambots” that impersonate real people, and he seemed to wonder if Twitter was underreporting them.

But the company has disclosed in regulatory filings that its bot estimates could be low for at least two years, leading some analysts to believe Musk could raise the issue as a reason to back out of the purchase.

“The Twitter agreement is temporarily suspended pending details supporting the calculation that spam/fake accounts do indeed represent less than 5% of users,” Musk tweeted Friday morning, indicating he was skeptical of the number of inauthentic accounts.

On Friday, Musk then tweeted that he was “still engaged in acquisition.” Neither Twitter nor Musk responded to requests for comment on Friday. Musk had a long flirtation with Twitter that culminated in a deal in April to acquire the social platform.

The problem of fake accounts on Twitter is no secret.

Sara Silver, professor of corporate journalism and financial communication at Quinnipiac University, said it appears Musk is using the number of spam accounts as a pretext to pull out of the deal.

“To claim that’s why he’s pausing the deal is not credible,” he added. Silver said. “It’s not a new issue for him. It’s not just about getting into his consciousness now.

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