What if Elon Musk’s checks on fake Twitter accounts were useless?

The businessman’s teams have access to the platform’s gigantic flow of tweets. But its analysis will not be an easy task and the results cannot be compared to those of Twitter in the absence of a common method.

The psychodrama of the Twitter takeover continues. Elon Musk demanded to check the number of fake accounts and spam on the total users before paying the 44 billion dollars planned to grab the platform. Except that data specialists think that it is not so easy to analyze the data provided, as the Wall Street Journal.

A complex task

Elon Musk has access to Twitter’s “Firehose”, i.e. to the entire stream of tweets published. Considering there are hundreds of millions of posts a day, that’s a heck of a lot of information to sift through. Difficult to process such a volume of data quickly. It is necessary to use substantial computing power and have the appropriate experts. It takes time and requires resources. Which explains why only a dozen companies have paid to access Twitter’s Firehose in recent years.

Suppose this obstacle is overcome. However, the protocol will certainly not be the same as that used by Twitter, which will make the results impossible to compare. Twitter said its calculation was based on multiple human reviews of thousands of randomly sampled accounts, coupled with user data it does not disclose. However, certain critical information was not provided to Elon Musk such as IP addresses or telephone numbers. They alone make it possible to check as a last resort whether it is a question of fake accounts or spam in disputed cases. The Firehose also does not provide any indication of platform users who read but do not post tweets. It is possible under these conditions to miss a bot whose sophisticated behavior resembles that of a human. Just as one can easily disqualify the tweets of a media or a service because they are partly automated.

The numbers will surely be different

Twitter and Elon Musk also did not agree on the definition of a fake account or spam. However, there is no universal standard. ” If Musk and his team decide they want to find different results from Twitter, it will be very easy for them to do so”told the Wall Street Journal Nathan Matias, communications expert from Cornell University. But Twitter can just as easily disqualify their findings. Difficult under these conditions for Elon Musk to renegotiate the terms of the agreement on this simple basis.

Twitter estimates the number of fake accounts and spam at less than 5%. A figure disputed by Elon Musk. He has claimed in recent weeks that it could be over 20%. He therefore suspended his acquisition while waiting for the current management to open up its databases to him. The question remains on the intentions of the businessman. It is possible that he seized on this subject as a pretext to renegotiate the transaction downwards. He was even suspected of wanting to frustrate the sale, which he denies.

Source :

The Wall Street Journal

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