Elon Musk, during an event at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, United States, Thursday, October 10, 2019.
Amid his deal to acquire Twitter, Elon Musk asked the United States Securities and Exchange Commission to review the social network’s user numbers.
Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, wrote in an informal Twitter poll on Tuesday, “Twitter claims >95% of daily active users are real, unique humans. Anyone have that experience?” He then said, in response to a follower, who suggested the SEC start an investigation, “Hello @SECGovanyone at home?”
The SEC has known about Twitter’s obscure actions for years.
Musk agreed to buy Twitter last month for $44 billion, but has since said the deal is on hold as he examines bots, spam and counterfeits. Twitter said it still expects the transaction to go through at the agreed price of $54.20 per share.
Investors dumped the shares, fearing Musk would walk away from his deal, which would force him to pay a $1 billion break fee. Twitter shares have given up all of their gains since Musk first disclosed his 9% stake in the company early last month.
Shares of Twitter rose more than 3% on Tuesday to $38.76, below the closing price of $39.31 on April 1, the last trading session before Musk revealed his minority stake.
In its financial filing for the first quarter of this year, Twitter acknowledged that there are a number of “fake or spam accounts” on its platform, as well as legitimate monetizable daily active users (mDAUs). . The company said it estimates the average fake or spam accounts accounted for less than 5% of mDAUs during this period.
Twitter also admitted to overestimating user numbers by 1.4 million to 1.9 million over the past three years.
“In March 2019, we launched a feature that allowed users to link multiple separate accounts to easily switch between accounts,” Twitter revealed. “An error was made at this time such that actions taken through the master account resulted in all linked accounts being counted as mDAU.”
Musk has repeatedly expressed his contempt for the SEC, including on Twitter in October 2018when he called the agency the “short sellers’ enrichment commission”, and in July 2020 when he wrote, “SEC, three-letter acronym, middle word is Elon.”
The SEC previously charged Musk with securities fraud in 2018 after he tweeted that he was considering taking his auto business private at $420 a share and had “secure funding.” They reached a settlement agreement to resolve the case. But Musk said the financial regulator’s ongoing investigations amounted to harassment.
LOOK: Elon Musk doesn’t seem to have any evidence for his bot claims