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Musk says Twitter deal halted until company proves spam account numbers

Twitter appears to be moving forward, having filed the necessary paperwork with the Securities and Exchange Commission to call for a shareholder vote on the deal.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk provides an update on the development of the Starship spacecraft and Super Heavy rocket.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk in Boca Chica, Texas on Feb. 10, 2022.The Washington Post / The Washington Post via Getty Images

Elon Musk said early Tuesday that his deal to buy Twitter will not move forward until the company proves that less than 5 percent of its accounts are fake.

Musk, responding to a tweet from a Tesla-focused media company, said that some analyses had found Twitter to be as much as 20 percent fake, which would be four times what Twitter publicly claims in its filings.

"My offer was based on Twitter's SEC filings being accurate," he tweeted.

"Yesterday, Twitter's CEO publicly refused to show proof of <5%," Musk tweeted. "This deal cannot move forward until he does."

Twitter appears to be moving forward. The company on Tuesday filed the necessary paperwork with the Securities and Exchange Commission to call for a shareholder vote on the Musk deal.

"Twitter is committed to completing the transaction on the agreed price and terms as promptly as practicable," the company wrote in a news release about the filing.

Musk and Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal exchanged some tweets on Monday after Agrawal wrote a Twitter thread explaining the challenges of finding and stopping fake accounts.

In a series of 13 tweets, Agrawal laid out how Twitter uses a combination of human review and automated detection to try to deal with fake accounts.

Musk has called for Twitter leadership to be more transparent in how they calcuate the number of fake accounts on the platform. Agrawal said in his tweet thread that the company has to keep private some of its methodology for counting fake accounts.

Musk responded with a single poop emoji.

Musk's tweets add to a growing body of evidence pointing to the Tesla and SpaceX CEO possibly looking to back out of or renegotiate his deal to buy Twitter, which is valued at around $44 billion.

Musk said last week the deal was “temporarily on hold” over the issue of fake accounts, though he reiterated then that he was still committed to buying the company. It was not clear then if any steps had been taken to halt the deal.

Since indications that Musk might be rethinking the deal, Twitter's share prices have dropped amid a broader market slowdown. Twitter's market capitalization (its value as a company based on its stock price) was about $28.6 billion as of early Tuesday.