Twitter just gave Elon Musk its firehose and sent him looking for bots

What you need to know

  • Twitter has given Elon Musk access to its firehose.
  • The firehose equates to 500 million tweets per day.
  • Musk doesn’t think Twitter’s claimed 5% of accounts being bots is accurate.

Twitter has given Elon Musk access to all the tweets in the world so he can look for bots.

Elon Musk’s buyout of Twitter just took another new turn after the social network gave him unfettered access to its firehose of tweets. That’s 500 million new tweets per day, with Musk now set to sift through them all as he tried to work out how many accounts are run by bots.

Musk’s $44 billion buyout of Twitter has been on the rocks since he claimed the company’s bot numbers were too low, apparently of the belief that the social network’s reported 5% figure is wrong. Now, he has all the information he needs to confirm his belief, according to a Washington Post report — but it’s debatable whether he can actually do anything with it.

After a weeks-long impasse, Twitter’s board plans to comply with Elon Musk’s demands for internal data by offering access to its full “firehose,” the massive stream of data comprising more than 500 million tweets posted each day, according to a person familiar with the company’s thinking, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the state of negotiations.

With so much data to work through Musk and his team might not have the time required to make a real determination. That’s something Twitter appears to be banking on, with Musk thought to be using the whole thing as a strategy to try and get a better price.

Twitter’s leaders are skeptical of Musk’s ability to use the fire hose to find previously undetected information: The data stream has been available for years to the companies that pay Twitter for the ability to analyze it to find patterns and insights in the daily conversation. They, along with some analysts and Silicon Valley insiders, say that Musk is using the data requests as a pretext to wiggle out of the deal or to negotiate a lower price.

Twitter has long been accused of having more bots than it says it has, and spam accounts and tweets are clearly a problem on the platform. Time will now tell whether we get a more accurate figure out of Musk’s team or not, or indeed whether the buyout moves ahead as planned.

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