ELON Musk has cast further doubt on his $44billion deal to buy Twitter due to questions over how many of its users are spambots.
In a tweet on Tuesday, the billionaire Tesla boss said the purchase "cannot move forward" until CEO Parag Agrawal provides "proof" that fewer than five per cent of accounts are fake.
Musk, 50, has publicly sparred with Agrawal over the number of bot accounts on the platform.
He has said that he believes they are higher than Twitter's official figures indicate.
It follows Musk's revelation last week that his purchase of Twitter is "temporarily on hold" while he seeks more detail about fake accounts.
He later clarified that he is "still committed to the acquisition".
The price of the company’s shares tumbled amid the confusion.
Spambots – autonomous accounts that send spam to a large number of users – are something that Twitter is well aware of.
In recent figures shared with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), it estimated that fewer than five per cent of daily active users are bots.
In a series of tweets on Sunday, Agrawal sparked a heated exchange with Musk regarding his concerns around spam.
Most read in News Tech
The chief executive claimed that internal estimates are actually "well below" the reported five per cent, adding that he didn't believe that the figure could be accurately investigated by a third party.
Musk replied to the tweets with a single poo emoji. He then asked how Twitter's advertisers know what they're getting for their money.
In Tuesday's tweet, he fleshed out his feedback, claiming that as many as 20 per cent of accounts might be fake.
"My offer was based on Twitter’s SEC filings being accurate," Musk wrote.
"Yesterday, Twitter’s CEO publicly refused to show proof of <5%. This deal cannot move forward until he does."
At a Miami technology conference Monday, Musk estimated that at least 20 per cent of Twitter's 229 million accounts are spambots.
According to Bloomberg, he said that that percentage was at the low end of his assessment.
Also at the All In Summit, Musk gave the strongest hint yet that he wishes to pay less for Twitter than his $44bn offer made last month.
He said a viable deal at a lower price would not be out of the question.
His recent comments have bolstered theories from analysts that Musk either wants out of the deal or is seeking a lower price.
His change in heart is thought to have been driven by a huge decline in the value of Tesla stock, some of which he has pledged to finance the Twitter acquisition.
- Read all the latest Phones & Gadgets news
- Keep up-to-date on Apple stories
- Get the latest on Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram
We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online Tech & Science team? Email us at [email protected]