Elon Musk has been fervently trying to duck out of a $44 Billion merger agreement to buy Twitter. Why? He says it’s because Twitter misrepresented the number of fake accounts (i.e., bots and trolls) regularly use the platform. And now he wants a public debate with the Twitter CEO over the fake account issue.
Using his Twitter account, Musk recently challenged Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal to a debate.
Three minutes later, Musk posted a poll to his Twitter.
“Less than 5% of Twitter daily users are fake/spam,” it states. Two responses, “Yes [followed by three robot emojis]” and “Lmaooo No” are offered.
So far, “Lmaooo No” has 64.9% of the responses and the other option is at 35.1%.
While the debate and poll are unlikely to have any effect on the looming October court date for Twitter’s lawsuit against Musk for pulling out of the agreement, it’s interesting.
Bots and Trolls Cause Information Gerrymandering
Trolls and bots have been a profound effect on how news and information circulate. Researchers have found that bots (robot accounts) and trolls (accounts run by people using fake names and aliases for questioning purposes) can reroute information. This process is called “information gerrymandering.”
Information gerrymandering can lead to phenomena called digital enclaves, as well as echo chambers, and can completely prevent people’s posts from circulating to real friends and followers. Basically, bots and trolls can manipulate the direction of information flow by reposting, liking, responding, or reporting on other people’s posts.
Musk thinks that over 20% of Twitter’s users are bots and trolls. Twitter claims it’s less than 5%.
There’s also heavy speculation that Musk is actually pulling out of the merger because Tesla’s stock plummeted after the merger announcement. Either way, it will be interesting to see if a debate occurs outside of court.