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Elon Musk Accuses Twitter of 'Thwarting' His Bot Information Request

The Tesla CEO wants his own team to evaluate the number of fake and spam accounts.

Elon Musk's profile picture on his Twitter page
Elon Musk isn't happy about Twitter's response to his request for more information about its bot problems.
Sarah Tew/CNET

Elon Musk on Monday accused Twitter of "actively resisting and thwarting" his right to information about the number of bots on the microblogging site. In mid-May, the Tesla CEO hit the brakes on his $44 billion deal to buy Twitter until the company backs up its estimate of fake and spam accounts.

Musk has criticized Twitter's moderation policies, particularly its inability to get a handle on the number of bots. He wanted his own team to do a random sampling to calculate the number of fake accounts, according to CNBC, but Twitter said nonpublic information would be needed for an accurate count.

Twitter said earlier that false or spam accounts represented fewer than 5% of its monetizable daily active users during the first quarter of 2022.

A letter Monday, from attorney Mike Ringler to Twitter's legal department, noted that the company's offer of extra details about its own testing methodologies wouldn't suffice.

"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," Ringler said in the letter.

Experts have said Musk faces a $1 billion breakup fee if he walks away from the deal, with Boston College law professor Brian Quinn telling the Associated Press the Tesla boss is looking for a way out or an excuse to renegotiate the price. Quinn reckons Musk's reasoning is unlikely to hold up in court since he already waived his ability to ask for more due diligence.

In an email to CNET, Twitter said it will "cooperatively share information" with Musk to complete the transaction in accordance with the terms of the merger agreement.

"We believe this agreement is in the best interest of all shareholders," company spokesperson Brenden Lee said. "We intend to close the transaction and enforce the merger agreement at the agreed price and terms."

Around 70% of Musk's nearly 97 million Twitter followers could be spam, fake or inactive, according to a May estimate from audience research software maker SparkToro.

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