Elon Musk Wants Staff Names Of Twitter’s Bot Counters

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Fight with Twitter, sees Elon Musk’s legal team requesting names of those employees who calculate bot or spam account numbers

The courtroom showdown between Twitter and Elon Musk edges closer, and both sides continue to manoeuvrer to ensure they have the best chance of winning.

This week the legal team of Elon Musk has demanded that Twitter turn over the names of its staff, responsible for calculating what percentage of users are bot or spam accounts, a source familiar with the matter has told Reuters.

It comes after Twitter last week began subpoenaing banks and financial institutions, seeking information about what lenders, investors and advisers were saying to each other about Musk’s behaviour after he signed the deal in late April.

Image credit: Tesla
Image credit: Tesla

Legal fight

Twitter is suing Musk over his attempt to terminate his agreed $44 billion deal to acquire the social media platform.

Elon Musk in turn filed a countersuit against Twitter, alleging he was “hoodwinked” into signing the deal to buy the social media company.

But the platform has said that Musk’s counterclaims are “factually inaccurate, legally insufficient, and commercially irrelevant.”

The two sides are set to appear in a Delaware Court of Chancery on 17 October.

Spam issue

Twitter had in April this year said that less than 5 percent of Twitter users are spam or fake accounts.

Musk however believes the true figure of fake or bot accounts is closer to 20 percent or more.

Twitter has previously said it suspends more than 1 million spam accounts a day – up from it when CEO Parag Agrawal, said in May that spam account suspensions were running at 500,000 a day.

Twitter apparently has a specialist team and automated processes dedicated to weeding out fake accounts, and in June it began providing access for Musk to the colossal firehose of public tweet data.

But Musk has not satisfied and pulled out of the agreement, alleging Twitter had withheld information about those bot accounts.

Seeking names

But in the agreement he signed with Twitter, Musk can only back out if something major happens to Twitter’s business, and there is doubt that the bot issue may be enough of a justification.

Twitter can demand a $1 billion (£836m) contractual breakup fee from Musk, if he reneges on the agreement.

Musk cannot be ordered to close the deal if his financing fails – provided he was not the cause of the failed funding.

In a letter filed under seal on Tuesday, Musk’s lawyers reportedly asked the judge overseeing the case to compel Twitter to hand over the staff names, so that the defence team can question them, the source told Reuters.

Twitter and a lawyer for Musk declined to comment.