Twitter Reverses Course on Musk Demand

Company will provide more information to help evaluate 'bot' accounts
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 6, 2022 9:55 AM CDT
Updated Jun 8, 2022 11:47 AM CDT
New Elon Musk Threat Has Twitter Stock Falling
Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

Updated: Twitter will relent and give Elon Musk all the information he wants to help him evaluate how many bogus accounts—or bots—are on the platform, reports the Washington Post. The company will give him access to what the Post describes as the full "firehose" of its daily data stream, perhaps as soon as this week. Musk has threatened to walk away from his proposal to buy the company without the info. Our story from Tuesday follows:

It's a new week but a familiar tale: Twitter's stock is falling after the latest volley over Elon Musk's bid to buy the platform. Musk's lawyer sent a letter to the company Monday, accusing Twitter of refusing to turn over his requested data on bots, or spam accounts, reports CNBC. And it came with a threat: "This is a clear material breach of Twitter's obligations under the merger agreement and Mr. Musk reserves all rights resulting therefrom, including his right not to consummate the transaction and his right to terminate the merger agreement," the letter says, per the AP. Twitter's stock was down about 5% in morning trading.

The background: Musk offered to buy Twitter in April, only to put the deal "on hold" the following month after he cited concern about too many bots circulating on the platform. Twitter, which has long estimated that fewer than 5% of its accounts are bogus, has argued that Musk isn't privy to any information that hasn't already been released on the subject. "To the contrary, Mr. Musk is entitled to seek, and Twitter is obligated to provide, information and data for, inter alia, 'any reasonable business purpose related to the consummation of the transaction,'" says the new letter.

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Much speculation has circulated that Musk is using the bot issue as a ploy to score a better deal, or perhaps to walk away from it without paying a penalty for doing so. The Wall Street Journal has a new story adding context: It notes that the bot issue is "personal" for Musk. Because of his huge following and frequent tweeting habit, Musk likely is better acquainted with the problem than almost anyone else. His "feed is flooded with tweets hawking products, requesting money, and pushing political agendas from what may be bots." Meanwhile, as the sniping continues, Fox Business notes that the potential deal has quietly cleared a federal antitrust review. (Musk has a "super bad feeling" about the economy.)

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