By Jason Abbruzzese NBCnews
There is a new twist in the agreement on the purchase of Twitter.
Billionaire Elon Musk said early Friday that his plan to buy the social media company was “temporarily on hold” until more details were learned about a report of fake accounts on the platform.
It was not immediately clear, based on Musk’s post on the social network, if any official action had been taken to stop the acquisition, which was agreed in late April with a price tag of about $44 billion. Twitter’s value, calculated based on its share price, has fallen in recent weeks along with the general decline in technology stocks.
Twitter was worth about $35 billion as of Friday morning. Right after Musk’s tweet, Twitter’s stock price plummeted more than 18%.
Musk did not immediately respond to questions via Twitter about steps taken to stop the deal.
Musk’s tweet included a link to a May 2 Reuters article about Twitter’s public archives, in which the company said fake or spam accounts only accounted for 5% of its user base. Musk has made fighting fake accounts a big part of his reasoning for buying the company.
Twitter currently has about 229 million users.
Although the deal hasn’t been finalized yet—big business acquisitions often take months or even years to close—Twitter has already shown signs of big changes. On Thursday, Twitter fired two executives and halted hiring.
[Elon Musk dice que dejará a Trump volver a Twitter si logra comprar la red social]
Musk’s Friday announcement adds another chapter to what has already been a winding and bizarre acquisition process that began in early April, when it was revealed that he had acquired a major stake in Twitter.
But since then, both the circumstances surrounding Twitter and the tech industry in general have changed. After initially agreeing to sit on Twitter’s board of directors, Musk backed down and launched an acquisition instead, eventually agreeing to a deal with the company’s board.
Musk has since stood up to investors, but his personal circumstances have also changed. The Bloomberg Billionaires Index still counts Musk as the world’s richest person, but his net worth is down almost 20% (about $56 billion) in 2022, due in large part to the sharp drop in the price of stocks. shares of Tesla, of which he is CEO. Some of the money Musk has borrowed for the deal is backed by shares of Tesla.
A major investment group recently said it believed Musk might try to make a lower offer for Twitter.
The company has had a history of fighting fake, spam, and bot accounts, some of which were found to be spreading misinformation and abuse. Once commonplace on the platform, these accounts now mostly violate company policies that prohibit “commercial spam,” “inauthentic engagements” intended to make something appear more popular than it is, “coordinated activity ” that attempts to manipulate conversations and “harmful coordinated activity that encourages or promotes behavior that violates Twitter rules.”
Musk has said he wants to buy Twitter so that it embraces free speech principles — he recently said he would reinstate former President Donald Trump — but also cracks down on spam and bots.