Elon Musk has a plan in hand to calculate exactly how many bots there are on Twitter: analyze a random sample of one hundred followers of the official @Twitter account, which today adds up to 61.7 million followers. The announcement was made by Musk himself a few hours ago through his account, in which he leaves a notice: “I invite others to repeat the same process and see what they discover.” In total, there are approximately 330 million active users on Twitter as a whole.
Musk’s tweet comes just a few hours after the tycoon himself announced that he has temporarily frozen his plans to buy the social network until he can determine that the fake and spam accounts represent less than 5% of active users and monetizable. The percentage is the one provided just two weeks ago by those responsible for Twitter, but the billionaire now claims “details that support the calculation” and corroborate that it is real.
Just a few hours after “pausing” the operation, the billionaire launched a second message in which he confirms, in any case, that he maintains his interest in the social network: “Still committed to the acquisition”. Since then, Musk himself has given hints as to why he has chosen to check the percentage of bots himself. And why is he doing it now, with the purchase already announced. “Didn’t you think about this before offering 44 billion for the company?” a user questioned him. “I relied on the accuracy of Twitter’s public presentations,” Musk countered.
“A Sensible Random Sample”
On why focus on a sample of only one hundred accounts, a tiny part of Twitter users, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX clarified: “Any process of sensible random sampling it’s okay. If many people independently get similar results for the percentage of fake/spam/duplicate accounts, it will be revealing. I chose 100 as the sample size, because that’s what Twitter uses to calculate <5%."
The purchase of Twitter was made public a few weeks ago, on April 25, and amounts to 44,000 million dollars, with a value per share of 54.20 dollars. The operation was closed just three weeks after the tycoon entered the company with force, spending nearly 2.9 billion dollars and becoming its largest shareholder. Musk has since advanced several of his plans for the social network. Among them, precisely, persecute false accounts.
Any sensible random sampling process is fine. If many people independently get similar results for % of fake/spam/duplicate accounts, that will be telling.
I picked 100 as the sample size number, because that is what Twitter uses to calculate <5% fake/spam/duplicate.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 14, 2022
To find out, my team will do a random sample of 100 followers of @twitter.
I invite others to repeat the same process and see what they discover…
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 14, 2022
What would happen if Musk’s calculations finally do not correspond to those provided by the company and he decides to back down? The agreement signed between both parties provides that if one of them decides to cancel the agreement, they will have to face a penalty of one billion dollars, as long as, he clarifies, they are fulfilled “the conditions of the obligations” of the sale.
The CBNC points out in any case that if the agreement is broken, the consequences for the CEO of Tesla could go beyond the penalty of one billion dollars and recalls the case of Tiffany and the French luxury goods conglomerate LVMH. It is speculated that the tycoon’s movement could have another objective: to try to make the sale operation cheaper, of 44,000 million.
The temporary freezing of the operation has not been the only controversial statement that Musk has left in recent hours. Via Twitter, the billionaire branded the DMCA, the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a “plague for humanity”, a regulation that penalizes copyright infringement on and off the Internet. On the regulation of copyright, in general, he points out that he has ended up being “too enthusiastic” and has gone “absurdly far”.