Jun 8, 2022 - Economy

Elon Musk will get user data "firehose" from Twitter

Photo illustration of Elon Musk next to the twitter logo

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue

Twitter has agreed to provide a set of user data to Elon Musk, who claims he can bail on his $44 billion takeover of the social media company if it misrepresented how many of its accounts are bots, The Washington Post first reported and Axios confirmed.

Yes, but: This isn't the data Musk needs to prove or disprove his hunch.

Musk will get access to a data firehose of all public tweets, which also is something that a small group of ad agencies and other third parties already receive for a fee.

  • But plenty of real people use Twitter without actually tweeting, and those accounts wouldn't appear in the firehose. They would, however, be included in Twitter's internal calculations of monthly daily active users, which is the cohort Twitter uses when determining that 5% of its accounts are fake.
  • Musk isn't getting access to this private data set, nor does he have a right to it because he waived due diligence.
  • Musk also wouldn't have access to other internal signals Twitter uses to help determine real vs. fake accounts, such as what tweets an account views or follows. These signals also help Twitter determine which "Twitter Moments" and other content to serve.
  • Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal recently wrote that the use of both public and private data is vital to determining the number of bots, but Musk only is expected to receive the former.

Twitter declined comment, except to reiterate its earlier statement about intending "to close the transaction and enforce the merger agreement at the agreed price and terms."

The bottom line: Expect Musk to keep agitating for the private data, and for Twitter to keep turning him down.

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