Elon Musk Says His Takeover of Twitter Is ‘On Hold.’

Elon Musk on Friday stepped up his drama around his $ 44 billion bid to buy Twitter, in a pre-dawn tweet saying the deal “Temporarily on hold” Until he could get more details about the amount of spam and fake accounts on the platform, and tweeted two hours later that he was “still committed” to the acquisition.

The announcements mark the latest chapter in an ongoing corporate saga that has raised questions about the consequences of online free speech and the handing over of one of the world’s richest people to one of the most influential social media platforms.

Mr. Musk, Tesla’s chief executive, said getting rid of fake accounts, bots and spam platforms would be one of his top priorities. In his tweet, Shri. Musk cited a May 2 regulatory filing by Twitter that estimated that less than 5 percent of Twitter users had spam and fake accounts.

Known for his free wheeling and sometimes impulsive business style, Mr. Musk’s comments surprised many about the future of the deal.

There are few restrictions on signing up for a Twitter account, and the company has long struggled with spam and bots. But it is difficult to put an exact figure on the scale of the problem. In a May 2 regulatory filing, Twitter said it estimated that less than 5 percent of its users were fake or spam, a figure it had previously disclosed. Twitter warned that it had applied “significant judgment” to the calculations and that its “estimates of false or spam accounts may not accurately represent real numbers”, similar to the language used in the company’s past filings.

Mr. Musk’s comments were seen either as a ploy to reduce the cost of acquisitions or as an excuse to eventually withdraw altogether.

Daniel Eves, an analyst at Wedbush, said in a note to investors, “Many will see these Twitter filing / spam accounts as a way out of this deal in a widely changing market.”

Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Musk’s surprise speech to Twitter has sparked considerable debate among police about the role of social media platforms in what his users say. Twitter has spent years fighting hate speech, harassment and other online abuse, but Mr. Musk, who has a history of using the platform to attack and demean critics, has promised to loosen the company’s content moderation policies. On Tuesday, he said he had met with former President Donald J. Will lift the ban on Trump.

Exiting the deal can be messy. The purchase agreement includes a 1 billion fee that Mr. Musk will have to pay if he terminates the deal, although it is not clear how such a clause would apply if Mr. Musk could prove Twitter’s user statistics to be false. If Mr. Musk’s debt financing is intact, Twitter could even take the billionaire to court to force him to pay for the deal.

Mr. Musk has promised to use his personal fortune to finance the deal for Twitter, a plan affected by the recent fall in stock prices, including Tesla. Shares of Tesla have fallen nearly 30 percent in the past month. Mr. Musk sells shares of Tesla and puts up collateral for a personal loan to raise cash.

If a deal is to be finalized, the business challenges on Twitter are Mr. Musk will draw more on its stock in the electric car maker to plug potential financial holes. And any problem with Tesla that caused its stock to drop enough is Mr. Musk’s personal loan, which will require him to add more collateral by limiting his ability to invest in Twitter.

Shares of Tesla rose after Mr on Friday. Musk’s comments.

Mr. Musk’s bid has created uncertainty within Twitter, a company already struggling to add users and generate more revenue. On Thursday, Twitter’s chief executive, Parag Agarwal, fired two top executives, halted new recruits and promised to cut costs.

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