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Wednesday, May 25, 2022
HomeLatest NewsWhat's Behind Elon Musk's Fake Twitter Profile Maneuver

What’s Behind Elon Musk’s Fake Twitter Profile Maneuver

The rollercoaster ride that Elon Musk’s Twitter purchase has become is once again falling in full swing. Now it is the South African billionaire who has expressed doubts about his interest in acquiring the social network. His justification was the existence of many false accounts among his users, but there are indications that this may be a maneuver that could affect the 44,000 million he offered via Twitter, as well as the way it is funded.

“The Twitter deal is temporarily on hold pending details supporting calculations that spam/fake accounts actually represent less than 5% of users,” Musk wrote at 5:45 AM ET Friday, New York. The comment sparked speculation, hitting the value of Twitter, which fell 10% on Wall Street as marketplaces reopened.

“I remain committed to the acquisition,” the tycoon wrote two hours later, despite the avalanche of doubt caused by the first comment. Much of it is based on the moment Musk decided not to trust the real user data that Twitter offers, and the real reason for this move, as bots and false profiles have been a problem with this online community for years.

The company itself acknowledged two weeks ago that its estimates of the presence of fake accounts on the platform underestimated the problem over the past three years. The correction caused a drop in the total number of users, but since the communication took place at the same time as the announcement of its quarterly increase, it remained in what was eaten by what was served.

Still looking to acquire

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 13, 2022

According to Twitter, the new entrants have made up for this blow, with the number of “monetizable users” accounting for more than 95% of the total number of accounts on the platform. According to Twitter, this is about 229 million, including those who are active at least once a month. According to We Are Social and Hootsuite’s 2022 Digital Report, including those who connect less, that figure rises to around 443 million.

known issue

Fake accounts are a problem not only for Twitter, but for any social network. The current model for this industry is to fund itself through the segmented ads it distributes to its users. If the number of your bots is greater than they recognize, this means that advertisers are paying to show their ads to an inflated number of people. Bots can increase an account’s following, tweet, retweet, and like, but of course they don’t represent actual advertising impact for advertisers and their customers: they are not “monetizable users”.

However, Twitter’s problems with fake accounts are special. Twitter is a minority social network in terms of the number of users: Instagram has almost five times as many; YouTube, eight times more; and Facebook, almost ten times more. In this area, his 443 million puts him on a par with Snapchat or Reddit, which even part of the population does not know about. But Twitter hosts (almost) all politicians, media and activist movements, as well as a large proportion of athletes, businessmen or artists per square meter. This makes her a very attractive target to manipulate the debate through these fake accounts.

“Fake accounts are created when there is reason to artificially promote a story. These causes don’t disappear, they change,” Mariluz Congosto, Twitter’s messaging and characterization specialist, explains to “Twitter is not very active on this issue, I have always had the impression that they can do much more than they do to control this issue,” he says.

In addition, Twitter’s high clout on the media agenda means that while the platform takes steps to keep bots low, there’s always an incentive for those who develop and rent bots to take it one step further. “It’s a business and so they’re trying to improve it so they can pass the filters and keep dedicating themselves to it. They also take advantage of the line play, which is very difficult to distinguish, which distinguishes a fake account from a pseudonym, the use of which is healthy and justified, ”recalls Kongosto.

But this is by no means a secret. Even Twitter admitted in a message to the US stock market regulator that its new, adjusted estimates for the presence of fake accounts “may not accurately reflect the actual number of such accounts, and the actual number of fake or spam accounts may be higher than estimated.” reported. “We appreciated.” It was April 26 last year.

Why is Musk questioning that 5% now? Twitter’s problem with fake accounts is no stranger to him, as some of his proposed changes to the social network are aimed at combating it, and he has frequently tweeted about it. This aspect is not trivial, as the purchase agreement he has already signed with Twitter includes a clause that will make him pay $1,000 million in the event that he voluntarily opts out, and it would be difficult for the businessman to defend this. I don’t know the problem he is now condemning.

money trail

The fact that Musk sows doubt in the process of buying Twitter, pointing out a problem recognized by the platform itself, its users and researchers, not only reduces the social network’s valuation. It also caused the downfall of Tesla within a few weeks. Ever since Musk announced he wanted to buy Twitter.

The Tesla listing turned out to be closely linked to Musk’s personal decisions. If he sells, the stock falls. This is exactly what happened when the businessman announced his intention to buy 100% of Twitter, as this almost necessarily meant that he would have to sell his stake in the electric car maker.

Musk is the richest person in the world according to Forbes, his fortune is estimated at about $250 billion. About half of that amount comes from his shares in Tesla. Musk’s tweet about fake Twitter accounts jumped 7%. “Tesla stock has reacted with some relief to the possibility that CEO Musk will have to sell fewer assets to fund the Twitter purchase,” said Ben Leidler, global markets strategist at eToro.

“This is not the first time that Elon Musk has used a rumor, hint or comment on Twitter to create a reaction in the market,” recalls José Antonio Alguacil, CEO of Ilusion Labs and communications expert: “He has done this before with Tesla.” The US stock market regulator, the SEC, imposed a large fine on Musk and banned him from posting tweets about Tesla without first having them checked by lawyers.

“This man does not do anything by accident, and here he has created a very clear script. On the one hand, he forced Twitter shares to fall in order to buy them cheaper. On the other hand, Tesla’s shares rose, which gave him more money to buy. In addition, he is strengthening his position as a leader, because he requires more transparency and efficiency in dealing with the problem of fake accounts. The play is round,” Algvasil clarifies.

The question is whether Musk’s SEC move will seem as reckless as he himself, or whether he will open a new case against the mogul for the alleged crime of stock market manipulation. asked Twitter about Musk’s statements and false accounts, but received no response at the time of this information being closed.


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