Twitter Succumbs to Musk's Fuss Over Bot Data

The whining billionaire will reportedly get access to Twitter's "firehose" of data on all 500 million tweets posted every day.

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The dog has caught the car: After weeks of Elon Musk’s whinging about bots, Twitter is going to give him all the data he can handle, according to The Washington Post.

The social network’s board is planning to grant Musk access to its “firehose” real-time stream of tweets and accompanying metadata about them that the site manages as early as next week, according to an anonymous source that spoke to the Post. The news is something of a reversal of the board’s previous stance denying Musk’s request for data. Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal has said the company’s count makes use of proprietary information and could not be disclosed. In response, Musk has accused the company of “actively resisting and thwarting his information rights.”

The world’s richest man has been in tumultuous negotiations to purchase Twitter for $44 billion, or $54.20 per share, for over a month now. In recent weeks, he’s stated concern about the number of bots, or fake accounts, on the site and demanded more proof of Twitter’s user numbers. On Monday, his legal team filed a letter with the SEC claiming that Twitter was in breach of their contract by not providing all the requested data.

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A company representative told Gizmodo:

Twitter has and will continue to cooperatively share information with Mr. Musk to consummate the transaction in accordance with the terms of the merger agreement. We believe this agreement is in the best interest of all shareholders. We intend to close the transaction and enforce the merger agreement at the agreed price and terms.

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Every second, about 6,000 tweets are posted, amounting to more than half a billion tweets each day. It’s an overwhelming amount of information, and the company’s heads doubt that Musk will be able to find anything in the torrent of information that they don’t already know, according to the Post. About 24 analysis companies that pay Twitter reportedly already have access to the data stream which includes info on user devices and accounts.

The social media site has repeatedly maintained that fake accounts make up only 5% of its users. But estimating bot numbers is complicated, and other analyses have found conflicting results with higher bot prevalence. Regardless, Musk was likely well-aware of Twitter’s long history of issues with falsified accounts prior to making his purchase offer.

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Since this is not a new problem, it seems the South African emerald heir is trying to use bots as an excuse to back out of the buyout deal. Musk is contractually obligated to follow through on the offer unless he can prove that Twitter has misled him or significantly shifted in value.

Nonetheless, the company’s head lawyer told staff today that the Musk deal is still moving forward and that a shareholder vote is set for late July or early August, according to a report from Bloomberg.

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Twitter has been in regulators’ crosshairs this week. Indicted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced Monday that his office would investigate the prevalence of bots on Twitter. Plus, the committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection has requested internal company communications, which the company has not complied with.

Update 6/08/2022, 3:25 p.m. ET: This post has been updated with additional information from a Bloomberg report.