Elon Musk sends poop emoji to Twitter CEO in response to thread on spam, fake accounts

Twitter has estimated that spam, fake accounts make up less than 5% of the social media platform's users

Tesla CEO Elon Musk sent Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal a poop emoji after the social media executive said it would be difficult to conduct an external review to determine the percentage of spam and fake accounts on the platform.

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"Unfortunately, we don’t believe that this specific estimation can be performed externally, given the critical need to use both public and private information (which we can’t share)," Agrawal explained in a Twitter thread on Monday. "Externally, it’s not even possible to know which accounts are counted as mDAUs on any given day."

"There are LOTS of details that are very important underneath this high-level description," he added. "We shared an overview of the estimation process with Elon a week ago and look forward to continuing the conversation with him, and all of you."   

In addition to the emoji, Musk questioned how Twitter's advertisers "know what they're getting for their money" and emphasized that an external review is "fundamental to the financial health of Twitter."  

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Twitter has previously estimated that spam and fake accounts make up less than 5% of users on the platform.

"Our estimate is based on multiple human reviews (in replicate) of thousands of accounts, that are sampled at random, consistently over time, from *accounts we count as mDAUs*. We do this every quarter, and we have been doing this for many years," Agrawal noted. "Each human review is based on Twitter rules that define spam and platform manipulation, and uses both public and private data (eg, IP address, phone number, geolocation, client/browser signatures, what the account does when it’s active…) to make a determination on each account."

Agrawal reiterated the internal estimate on Monday, adding that Twitter suspends over half a million spam accounts every day and locks millions of suspected spam accounts each week that are unable to pass human verification challenges. 

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In the first quarter of 2022, Twitter's monetizable daily active user base grew 15.9% year-over-year to 229 million, including 39.6 million daily active users in the U.S. and 189.4 million international daily active users. 

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The latest exchange comes after Twitter's board accepted Musk's $44 billion offer in April to take the company private at $54.20 per share. The deal, which is subject to shareholder and regulatory approval and satisfaction of other customary closing conditions, is expected to close in 2022. 

The stock is on pace for its seventh down day with losses of over 20% during the time frame. 

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Musk put the acquisition on hold temporarily last week as he awaited details supporting calculations for Twitter's internal spam and fake account estimate. However, he noted at the time that he was "still committed" to completing the deal.

In addition to vowing to crack down on spam bots, the self-described "free speech absolutist" has expressed interest in open sourcing Twitter's algorithm to improve transparency with the platform's users and said he would overturn former President Donald Trump's ban.