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Among the proclamations made by Elon Musk after he announced that he intended to purchase Twitter was his desire to rid the platform of "the spam bots.” But in an announcement this Monday, Musk said he can't go through with the purchase "unless the social media giant can prove bots make up fewer than 5% of its users," as Bloomberg reported.
The chief of SpaceX as well as Tesla, Musk is currently listed by Forbes as the world's wealthiest person, with a fortune of about $230 billion, much of it in Tesla stock.
Seen by his champions as an iconoclastic genius and by his critics as an erratic megalomaniac, Musk surprised many investors in April with news that he wanted to purchase Twitter.
But his $44 billion bid for Twitter is now "temporarily on hold," pending questions over the social media company's estimates of the number of fake accounts.
Writing in Bloomberg this Tuesday, opinion columnist Matt Levine says Musk is "lying."
"The spam bots are not why he is backing away from the deal, as you can tell from the fact that the spam bots are why he did the deal. He has produced no evidence at all that Twitter’s estimates are wrong, and certainly not that they are materially wrong or made in bad faith," Levine writes, adding that Musk's method for counting spam bots is "laughable."
"More important, nothing has changed about the bot problem since Musk signed the merger agreement. Twitter has published the same qualified estimate — that fewer than 5% of monetizable accounts are fake — for the last eight years," writes Levine. "Musk knew those estimates, and declined to do any nonpublic due diligence before signing the merger agreement."
Levine points out that tech stocks have gone down, as well as the stock value of Tesla, which he was relying on to finance part of the Twitter purchase. According to Levine, Musk is "angling to reprice the deal for straightforward market reasons" but the merger agreement that he signed doesn't allow him to get out just because stocks went down.
"Twitter accepted Musk’s offer, and three weeks later, he said 'ha no I was kidding, psych!' And it is catastrophic."
Twitter chief executive Parag Agrawal has said the platform suspends more than a half-million seemingly bogus accounts daily, usually before they are even seen, and locks millions more weekly that fail checks to make sure they are controlled by humans and not by software.
Internal measures show that fewer than five percent of accounts active on any given day at Twitter are spam, but that analysis can't be replicated externally due to the need to keep user data private, Agrawal contended.
Musk, who has said bots plague Twitter and that he would make getting rid of them a priority if he owned the platform, responded to that tweet by Agrawal with a poo emoji.
With additional reporting by AFP
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) walked to the Supreme Court on Tuesday to speak to anti-choice protesters holding vigil outside the building as the justices finalize their decision on the future of women's health in the U.S.
"If you accidentally get pregnant, let me tell you something, that abortion that you are considering having is not going to solve your problems," she said. "It is not going to make that boyfriend of yours or that guy love you. That abortion won't do that. It’s not going to help you pursue a career that you think you want to pursue. It's not going to help you finish college. Let me tell you what will help you out more in your life when you have a baby, and you love someone more than you've loved someone in your entire life."
Greene, who has made a number of controversial comments in her short political career, has focused on abortion as a key piece of her 2022 reelection campaign. Last month, Greene told right-wing Catholic activist Michael Voris that Satan manipulates women into getting abortions.
"It's whispered, softly and gently, into your ears and into your soul," the congresswoman explained. Satan evidently tells anyone getting an abortion that if they do it they'll get "all these dreams that you have in your heart. And that's how Satan sells a sin, and that's how he sells abortion. He tells a woman that all you have to do is you're just going to go to this clinic, just going to get it over with, you know."
"And then you're going to, that guy, he's going to stay with you, that boyfriend or the guy, whoever he is, he's going to marry you, sweep you off your feet," she continued, explaining what Satan says. It's unclear if Greene has heard these voices or if she's only heard a recounting of someone hearing the voices.
During Greene's first year in Congress, she ended up in a shouting match with Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. The event was a press conference about the economics of the Build Back Better plan and how it would help women with child care and paid family leave as part of an ongoing effort to get women back into the workplace following the pandemic.
"You should practice the basic thing you're taught in church: respect your neighbor," Dingell shouted at one point after the passage of a 2021 piece of legislation that would have codified Roe.
Greene yelled back: "Taught in church, are you kidding me? Try being a Christian and supporting life!"
Dingell responded: "You try being a Christian... and try treating your colleagues decently!"
See the video of Greene at the Court below or at this link.
Marjorie Taylor Greene explains how she fixed the lack of love in her life www.youtube.com
Noel Gallagher's Gibson guitar, which was broken in 2009 at the same time as the British group Oasis imploded, sold for 385,500 euros at an auction in Paris on Tuesday.
Later repaired, the red Gibson's destruction at the French capital's Rock en Seine festival in 2009 was "a cult moment" in music history, said Jonathan Berg, a guitar expert and cofounder of the Artpeges gallery that held the auction.
With a starting price at 150,000 euros ($160,000), the auctioneers said bids for the guitar could have reached as high as 500,000 euros.
A flagship of the 1990s Britpop movement built around the notoriously fractious Gallagher brothers, Oasis scored global success, selling 60 million albums and birthing hits like "Wonderwall" and "Don't Look Back In Anger".
The band had been slated to play at Rock en Seine in 2009 towards the end of their year-long "Dig Out Your Soul" global tour -- named for their album of the same name.
But "things had been brewing for a while between the two brothers," Berg said.
"It exploded backstage, one of Noel's guitars got broken and that led to the group breaking up."
An eager crowd waiting for the pair to appear were stunned to get the message that Oasis was history.
The dramatic split set off years of public barbs between the brothers via the press and social media that have gradually cooled off.
Both have continued making music since they parted ways, but have repeatedly ruled out getting Oasis back together.
The guitar, restored in 2011, was presented with its original case and a note from its former owner, signed "Peace, love and bananas".
Bidding started at 150,000 euros ($190,000), selling just above the low estimate of 300,000 euros plus a fee of 85,500 euros.
Arthur Perault, another co-founder of Artpeges, said he was "pretty happy" with the session.
Among the other top lots, a bondage suit made entirely of leather and chains worn by Martin Gore of the British group Depeche Mode, matched the top-end estimate, finding a buyer for 15,528 euros including tax.
A rare vinyl signed by both Jimi Hendrix and beloved French rocker Johnny Hallyday sold for more than 10,000 euros.
A total of 85 lots were on offer on Tuesday at the Hotel Drouot, the main Paris auction site, including 1960s amps, silkscreen prints of Pink Floyd albums and photos of rock stars.
© 2022 AFP