‘Absurdly broad’ requests by Elon Musk mostly rejected by judge, but Twitter does have to hand over audit data from 9,000 users
Mixed results for both Twitter and Elon Musk, after the latest ruling by a US judge in the lead up to a courtroom showdown.
A judge rejected Elon Musk’s demands for Twitter user details as “absurdly broad” on Thursday, Reuters reported. That said, Twitter has been ordered to hand some data over to Musk concerning thousands of users.
The judge ordered Twitter to turn over data from 9,000 active users accounts that were sampled in a fourth-quarter (2021) audit. That data was used by Twitter to estimate the number of spam or bot users on the social media platform.
Both are due to appear in court on 17 October for a five day trial.
Earlier this week Elon Musk subpoenaed former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, who has previously supported Musk’s takeover attempt, and has also criticised Twitter’s board of directors, despite vocal concerns from staff and users about Musk’s acquisition.
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.
On Thursday Chancellor Kathaleen McCormick of Delaware’s Court of Chancery said many of Musk’s data demands were “absurdly broad,” amounting to trillions of data points that “no one in their right mind has ever tried to undertake such an effort.”
The judge also said Musk has had data and documents needed to pursue his case, much of which was provided before he said on 8 July he was terminating the deal in part because Twitter was withholding information.
“My overall impression is that plaintiff has agreed to produce a tremendous amount of information to defendants, and that the information plaintiff has agreed to produce is sufficiently broad to satisfy most of plaintiff’s obligations,” wrote Chancellor Kathaleen McCormick of Delaware’s Court of Chancery.
Twitter was ordered to turn over data from 9,000 accounts sampled in a fourth-quarter audit to estimate the number of spam or bot users on the social media platform.
Twitter had said that data no longer existed and it would be burdensome to recreate it, although McCormick gave the company two weeks to produce it.
“We look forward to reviewing the data Twitter has been hiding for many months,” said Musk’s attorney, Alex Spiro, told Reuters in an emailed statement.
Twitter declined to comment.
Musk has said he wants to test that audit’s accuracy because he believes the company fraudulently misrepresented that only 5 percent of its accounts were spam. He wants McCormick to rule he can walk away from the deal.
Twitter said at a Wednesday court hearing that Musk’s focus on spam was “legally irrelevant” because the company has described the spam count in regulatory filings as an estimate, not a representation.
It also said the real level of spam could be higher.