Although tech billionaire Elon Musk has been given the Twitter data he claimed was needed to complete his $44 billion takeover of the company, data scientists and experts are uncertain that the information will provide him with clear-cut answers about how many fake accounts are on the platform.
In recent weeks, Twitter has supplied Musk with historical tweet data and access to its "fire hose" of tweets, people with knowledge of the matter told The Wall Street Journal.
The data reveal the full spectrum of all tweets, almost in real time, according to the platform, and users post hundreds of millions of times per day.
Musk has said that access to that data could expedite the process of completing his purchase of Twitter, as he had expressed concerns about how many of the company's accounts are fake.
According to the platform's own estimates, spam or fake accounts make up less than 5% of its monetizable daily active users, which is most recently gauged at 229 million.
Musk has said he believes the amount could be closer to 20%.
Data analysts and social-media specialists say that the volume and limitations of the data make it difficult for anyone to quickly determine if Twitter's estimates of fake accounts are correct.
Last month, Musk said the acquisition was "temporarily on hold" because of his concerns about fake accounts, leading to speculation that he was attempting to renegotiate or cancel the deal. Earlier this month, the Tesla CEO threatened to walk away if Twitter did not provide all the data he requested.
People who have analyzed Twitter's data told the Journal that processing it in a limited timeframe is a tall order because of the volume of data and the amount of resources needed to sift through it.
"The average company would be drowning in the data," Rahul Telang, a professor of information systems at Carnegie Mellon University's Heinz College, said.
Musk has not said how he intends to complete his analysis, but Telang told the Journal that, as the world's richest person, he could hire enough data analysts to finish the job within about a month's time.
Tamer Hassan, chief executive of Human Security Inc., told the news outlet that, with Twitter's fire hose, Musk would be able to find some activity that could indicate fake or spam accounts, such as when an account tweets more than a human could in a short period of time.
Hassan's company specializes in preventing bot attacks and online fraud.
According to the Journal, information that could help confirm if accounts are real people, such as phone numbers and IP addresses, are not included in Twitter's fire hose.
The data also doesn't provide information on users who read tweets on the platform but don't post, which is likely a sizeable share of Twitter's users, according to John Kelly, CEO of social-media analytics firm Graphika Inc.
"It's insufficient for assessing the proportion of the platforms' monetizable daily users that aren't human," he said.
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