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Since 2013, Twitter has downplayed the spread of fake accounts on its platform, holding that “false or spam” accounts make up less than 5% of its user base even as independent researchers said the number could be three times higher.

That discrepancy could now affect the outcome of Elon Musk’s $44 billion cash deal after the billionaire tweeted on Friday that the takeover bid was “temporarily on hold” while he sought information about the number of phony Twitter accounts.

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