Mayukh Saha
Mayukh Saha
June 19, 2024 ·  4 min read

Experts Say That Elon Musk Has No Idea How Math Works

Elon Musk doesn’t seem to be having any clue about how the Twitter algorithm works, at least according to experts. The CEO of SpaceX and Tesla has brought out a new plan to find the number of fake accounts on the platform. And this plan involves asking users to count them individually. The plan sounds so ridiculous, that most experts are of the opinion that he is simply trolling people. As it stands, the world’s richest billionaire has the shares of the platform tumbling. On May 10th, he mentioned that he would be putting his plans of purchasing the company on hold. And the reason behind him postponing this would be his research on fake and scam accounts on the site. While his aim seems to be important, his ways are foolhardy. 

Elon Musk Thinks The Best Way To Find Fake Accounts Would Be Manual Verification

Speaking to CNBC, Elon Musk spoke about his plans being put on hold. He stated that the deal would be postponed due to “pending details supporting calculation that spam/fake accounts do indeed represent less than five percent of users.” Later he did confirm that the deal was still on the table. He would need the time to hammer out the issues on the fake accounts. Nevertheless, his team has been working on the analysis. And he seems pretty hopeful that a solution would be brought to the table. In their Q1 reports for this year, Twitter had maintained that there were a number of false accounts. “We have performed an internal review of a sample of accounts and estimate that the average of false or spam accounts during the first quarter of 2022 represented fewer than 5% of our mDAU during the quarter.”[1]

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Nevertheless, some experts believe that this is Elon Musk getting cold feet. Some even mentioned that this was his way of backing out of the buyout. Interestingly, Musk has been pretty upfront about his grief regarding spambots. He has also promised that he would be taking care of them when he stands at the helm. As it stands, Twitter had already reported in a filing in May that the number of fake accounts did construe a value below 5%. In fact, they also admitted to overstating the number of users over the last 3 years. “In March of 2019, we launched a feature that allowed people to link multiple separate accounts together in order to conveniently switch between accounts. An error was made at that time, such that actions taken via the primary account resulted in all linked accounts being counted mDAU.”

It Is Unclear If Elon Musk Has Any Knowledge Of The Twitter Algorithm

Elon Musk has also promised that he would be authenticating all real humans on the platform. In a post on Friday, Musk suggested, “To find out, my team will do a random sample of 100 followers of Twitter. I invite others to repeat the same process and see what they discover…Pick any account with a lot of followers. Ignore first 1000 followers, then pick every 10th. I’m open to better ideas.” Needless to say, this doesn’t seem like a good idea. While one can understand that Musk is doing what’s appropriate when purchasing something worth billions of dollars. But, his approach is methodologically simpleminded. 

Elon Musk also believes that picking 100 accounts would do the job because the social media platform did that too. In fact, he claimed that this was the number Twitter used to calculate the numbers in their quarterly reports. “Any sensible random sampling process is fine. If many people independently get similar results for % of fake/spam/duplicate accounts, that will be telling. I picked 100 as the sample size number, because that is what Twitter uses to calculate <5% fake/spam/duplicate.”[2]

Trolling or Naivete?

On the other hand, people like Dustin Moskovitz have highlighted that the sample chosen is far too small. The co-founder of Facebook mentioned, “How will they decide one is fake? Also I feel like ‘doesn’t trust the Twitter team to help pull the sample’ is it’s own kind of red flag.” The CEO of Twitter, Parag Agarwal, also put up a lengthy thread on Twitter than could provide a reference for everything Elon Musk had been saying. Agarwal also mentioned that the question of finding fake accounts wasn’t as easy as Musk thought. “Our actual internal estimates for the last four quarters were all well under five percent. It’s not even possible to know which accounts are counted as monetizable daily active users on any given day.”[3]

Elon Musk, on his part, has been pretty unhelpful about this. To Agarwal’s statement, Musk sarcastically tweeted, “Have you tried calling them?”


  1. Elon Musk wants to know how many fake accounts Twitter has, but experts say his approach is all wrong.” CNBC. Lora Kolodny. May 16, 2022.
  2. Twitter estimates spam, fake accounts comprise less than 5% of users -filing.” Reuters. Shiela Dang. May 2, 2022.
  3. Experts Say That Elon Musk Has No Idea How Math Works.” Futurism