The knives were finally out between Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal on Monday. The latter went into further detail on how the microblogging site is combating spam and phony accounts, to which Musk has protested and halted the $44 billion Twitter takeover proposal.
Musk also sent Agrawal a Twitter thread with an image showing a “lump of crap.”
In a Twitter discussion, Agrawal attempted to ease worries about the number of fake/spammy accounts using statistics, facts, and context, after Musk questioned Twitter data on eliminating fake/spammy accounts last week.
“Based on the technique explained above, our actual internal forecasts for the past four quarters were under 5%. Our estimate error margins provide us confidence in our quarterly public announcements, “Agrawal said.
He responded to Musk, who said that he does not accept Twitter’s claims that bogus or spam accounts account for less than 5% of the company’s monetizable daily active users (229 million).
Musk previously said that his team used the random sampling procedure to determine the prevalence of fake/spam accounts.
Agrawal said, “Unfortunately, given the vital necessity to utilize both public and private information (which we cannot disclose), we do not feel we can complete this exact assessment outside. It’s impossible to determine which accounts are classified as mDAUs on any given day from the outside “.
“So, how do advertisers know what they’re paying for? This is critical to Twitter’s financial stability.” Musk responded.
According to Agrawal, spam isn’t only “binary” (human/nonhuman).
“The most sophisticated spam operations combine human coordination with automation. They also hack into legitimate accounts and utilize them to further their cause. So, they’re intelligent and challenging to capture, “He protested.
“The problematic aspect is that many accounts that seem to be phony on the surface are genuine persons. On the surface, some of the spam accounts that are the most harmful – and inflict the most damage to our consumers – seem to be completely legal, “explained the CEO of Indian ancestry.
He confessed that spam detection isn’t flawless.
“As a result, despite all of the spam eradication I mentioned before, we know that some still get through. This is something we track internally. And we think that 5% of reported mDAU for the quarter is spam accounts, “he said.
“Our estimate is based on numerous human assessments (in replication) of thousands of accounts from *accounts we consider as mDAUs* that are picked at random, consistently across time. We do this every quarter and have done for many years, “Agrawal said.
Musk, for example, was not persuaded by Agrawal’s arguments.
“Underneath this high-level summary, there are a LOT of critical details. Elon and I discussed the estimating process a week ago, and we look forward to continuing the dialogue with him and all of you, “Agrawal said.