Elon Musk has put his $44 billion deal for Twitter Inc temporarily on hold. The investor made the announcement earlier today on his official account on the social media platform. In his tweet, he said he initiated the hold because he needs to gather details that support the website’s calculation that spam and fake accounts represent less than 5% of users.
As a result of the news, Twitter’s shares fell 17.7% to $37.10 in premarket trading. The drop marks the shares’ lowest level since Musk disclosed his stake in the company last month. At the time, he made a best and final offer to take over the company privately for $54.20 per share.
The probability of the deal now closing at the agreed price fell below 50% for the first time on Tuesday. At that time, Twitter shares dropped below $46.75.
Earlier this month, the social media platform estimated that false or spam accounts represented fewer than 5% of its monetizable daily active users during the first quarter of the year. During that time period, it recorded that 229 million users saw advertising on their accounts.
When he made the deal to buy Twitter, Musk, who’s a self-proclaimed free speech absolutist, said that one of his priorities would be to remove spam bots from the platform.
Twitter did not immediately publicly respond or comment to the businessman’s decision to put the deal on hold. But the company did previously say it faced several risks until the deal with Musk is closed, including whether advertisers would continue to spend money on the website amid “potential uncertainty regarding future plans and strategy.”
Since buying the company, Musk has been critical of Twitter’s moderation policy. He has said he’s against the platform providing too much power on the service to corporations that advertise.
Earlier this week, the SpaceX founder also said he would reverse Twitter’s ban on former U.S. President Donald Trump when he officially buys the social media platform. That decision signals his intention to also cut moderation of the website.