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Twitter outmaneuvers Elon Musk, gives him 500 million daily tweets for his bot search

Elon Musk
Elon Musk (Image credit: Recode)

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.

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.

Oliver Haslam
Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.