Elon Musk said his $44 billion bid to purchase Twitter was “temporarily on hold” until he could get more details to confirm that spam and fake accounts represent less than 5 percent of the social network’s total users.
Mr. Musk, the chief executive of Tesla, made the announcement in a pre-dawn tweet on Friday. He linked to a Reuters article published on May 2 about a regulatory filing by Twitter that included an estimate of the number of spam and fake accounts.
Shares in Twitter fell about 20 percent in premarket trading on Friday.
Mr. Musk has said that ridding the platform of fake accounts, bots and spam is one of his top priorities after taking over.
Known for his freewheeling and sometimes impulsive business style, Mr. Musk’s comments raise questions about the future of a deal that would put one of the most influential social media platforms under the control of world’s wealthiest person.
The deal for Twitter includes a $1 billion termination fee that Mr. Musk would have to pay if he backs out of the deal, though it was unclear how such a clause would apply if Mr. Musk determined Twitter’s user figures were incorrect.
Mr. Musk has pledged to use a considerable amount of his personal fortune to finance the deal for Twitter, a plan that has been impacted by a recent plunge in stock prices, including Tesla’s. Tesla’s stock has fallen nearly 30 percent in the past month. Mr. Musk is both selling Tesla shares and putting them up as collateral for personal loans to raise cash.
If a deal were to be completed, any trouble at Twitter could force Mr. Musk to draw further on his stock in the electric carmaker to plug potential financial holes. And any problem at Tesla that caused its stock to fall far enough could trigger clauses in Mr. Musk’s personal loans that would require him to add more collateral, limiting his ability to invest in Twitter.
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