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Elon Musk says Twitter deal ‘temporarily on hold’

Elon Musk said Friday that his plan to buy Twitter for $44 billion is “temporarily on hold” as he tries to pinpoint the exact number of spam and fake accounts on the social media platform, another twist amid signs of internal turmoil over the proposed acquisition.

Musk, who has been vocal about his desire to clean up Twitter’s problem with “spam bots” that mimic real people, appeared to question whether the company was underreporting them, AP reports.

In a tweet, the Tesla billionaire linked to a Reuters story from May 2 about a quarterly report from Twitter that estimated false or spam accounts made up fewer than 5% of the company’s “monetizable daily active users” in the first quarter.

“Twitter deal temporarily on hold pending details supporting calculation that spam/fake accounts do indeed represent less than 5% of users,” Musk said, indicating he’s skeptical that the number of inauthentic accounts is that low.

It wasn’t clear whether the issue could scuttle the deal.

Twitter did not immediately respond to requests for comment early Friday.

Stock in both Twitter and Tesla swung sharply in opposite directions, with Twitter’s stock tumbling 14%, and shares of Tesla, which Musk had proposed using to help fund the Twitter deal, jumping 7%.

Investors have had to weigh legal troubles for Musk, as well as the possibility that acquiring Twitter could be a distraction from running the world’s most valuable automaker. The proposed deal continued to pressure shares of Tesla, which had already fallen 16% this week.