Elon Musk has taken aim at automated accounts on the site in his latest comments as speculation grows over a potential hostile takeover. Writing on the social media platform Mr Musk said: “If our twitter bid succeeds, we will defeat the spam bots or die trying! “And authenticate all real humans.” A long time user of Twitter himself, Mr Musk has frequently voiced criticisms over the platform on issues such as its handling of free speech and even requests for an edit button.
In particular he has previously cited spam bots as the “single most annoying problem on twitter (sic)”.
Bots are fake accounts which are controlled by software to carry out functions such as tweeting and reposting content with particular key words.
Tesla itself has been the subject of bot activity with research previously finding up to a fifth of tweets about the car company were bot generated.
Elon Musk was also involved in a row over a bot account which provided real time updates on his private jet’s movements, with Mr Musk offering the creator $5k (£3.87k) to take it down.
Mr Musk’s latest comments come as he also revealed around $46.5 billion (£35.99bn) has been committed to funding a potential takeover of Twitter, including $21 billion (£16.25bn) of his own money.
According to a filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission a further $13 billion (£10.06bn) will come from debt financing by a group of financial institutions led by investment bank Morgan Stanley.
Another $12.5 billion (£9.68bn) has been raised through loans with a portion of Mr Musk’s shares in Tesla put as collateral.
Mr Musk is already one of Twitter’s largest share holders having acquired a 9.2 percent stake in the firm this year.
Twitter has so far responded with a so-called poison pill defence which would allow it to issue more shares to investors if Mr Musk’s holding increases above 15 percent, with the result his holding would become diluted and lose voting power.
Apart from this move though, the board has yet to give a response on Mr Musk’s bid.
In a statement this week Twitter said: “We are in receipt of the updated, non-binding proposal from Elon Musk, which provides additional information regarding the original proposal and new information on potential financing.
“As previously announced and communicated to Mr Musk directly, the board is committed to conducting a careful, comprehensive and deliberate review to determine the course of action that it believes is in the best interest of the company and all Twitter stockholders.”
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According to Mr Musk’s filing with the SEC he is now considering whether to move forward with a tender offer which would bypass the board and offer all investors the chance to sell to him directly at a fixed price.
Mr Musk has already been hinting at this approach on Twitter, tweeting “Love Me Tender” and a blank space followed by “is the night”, a cryptic reference to Scott F. Fitzgerald’s novel Tender is the Night.
In a poll he also asked followers if the decision to take Twitter private should be down to shareholders and not the board, which returned a vote of yes by 83.5 percent.
A private takeover by Mr Musk would likely lead to considerable changes for the firm which has previously been accused of not being innovative enough.
One former board member speaking to the Financial Times suggested the company “should go private”, adding: “There is a world where I can imagine the business is 10 to 100 times bigger.”
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