Fake accounts on Twitter: Elon Musk just has to count them

The ball is now in Elon Musk’s court. The billionaire, who suspended his takeover of Twitter on proof that the platform has, as it claims, less than 5% of fake users and spam, will receive the data used for this calculation.

According to an anonymous source, but close to the negotiations, quoted by the washington post, Twitter is expected to send out a “data stream comprising the roughly 500 million tweets posted each day” soon. Delivery should happen very quickly. Twitter is thus complying with Musk’s increasingly insistent requests. Monday, June 6, in a letter addressed to a lawyer for Twitter, posted online by the SEC, the policeman of the financial markets, the boss of Tesla had accused the social network of “actively resisting” his requests for information on the subject. . An official, serious complaint, which contrasted with the mocking tweets distilled by the richest man in the world over the weeks, who for his part estimated the number of fake users or accounts at 20%. In this letter, Elon Musk also brandished the threat of an outright withdrawal from the deal..

Twitter therefore gave in to the pressure and thereby reaffirms its intention to carry out the transaction at 44 billion dollars, rather advantageous for the company given the fall in its share price on the stock market around 40 dollars. According to the business media Bloomberg, Twitter would even be rather confident about a shareholder vote to approve the acquisition by the end of July or the beginning of August. By reacting rather quickly, the social network also lightens its burden: if Elon Musk wants to challenge his calculation, he is free to try to do so. And if he doesn’t succeed, despite Twitter’s transparency efforts, he will have to go to the checkout.

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What number will Musk have?

Elon Musk should now conduct his own analysis. A result similar to that of Twitter would be a real snub for him. Everything suggests that the entrepreneur will therefore favor a method allowing him to challenge – again – the figures of Twitter, and thus lower the selling price. Or offer yourself a way out. Regardless, a plethora of external estimates already offer methodologies different from those of Twitter. Like the results of the firm specializing in audience measurement, SparkToro, which claims that 5 to 30% of Twitter subscribers are fake. On Wednesday, GlobalData, a British analysis company, from a sample of 22,000 tweets, for its part obtained a proportion of 10% of false users on the platform.

But these calculations – like those of Twitter – have their limits. “The precise proportion of fake accounts or spam accounts is difficult to calculate, as it is nearly impossible to confirm the identity of the entity behind a tweet. Additionally, the definition of a fake account may differ depending on where the Incessant tweets of unoriginal content may be considered spam, but some may choose to view it as a very active user sharing articles or opinions,” GlobalData acknowledges. Indeed, all automated accounts – or bots – are not harmful on Twitter, like the “chatbots” used by companies for their customer relations, or others, more informational, even playful, noting for example each change made on a political page of the online encyclopedia Wikipedia.

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We understand: Elon Musk will also have the opportunity to define himself what is a fake account, a bot or even spam. Enough to be able to obtain with certainty a different result from Twitter. Then, if not, would he really believe in such a low number of fake accounts? As recently indicated in an exchange with L’Express the specialist in digital public policy, Anuchika Stanislaus, the billionaire “is particularly affected by this problem”. For his own Twitter account, at nearly 100 million subscribers, the estimates are rather about 25 to 50% of false followers. If the opening of data by Twitter allows the social network to save time, it should not change much of Elon Musk’s vision of the platform. Conflict seems inevitable.


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