Twitter calls Elon Musk’s allegations of fake accounts an excuse

Twitter accused Elon Musk of “looking for an excuse” to back out of a deal to buy the company because the stock market crash meant it was no longer good for him.

The social media platform is suing Mr Musk to force the $44bn (£36.2bn) takeover to complete after the Tesla and SpaceX boss said he was refusing.

Mr. Musk’s counterclaims against Twitter have yet to be made public, but the published legal action from the social networking site is a direct response to several of Mr. Musk’s claims, including his accusation of Twitter being a scam and hiding the true number of fake or bot accounts on platform to push through the deal.

But in a new court document, Twitter calls Mr. Musk’s allegations “factually inaccurate, legally inadequate, and commercially inappropriate.”

Twitter calls the billionaire’s claim that Twitter hid or misrepresented the number of bot accounts on the platform a “story” that was “concocted in an attempt to avoid a merger agreement that Musk no longer found attractive after the stock market — and along with this, his enormous personal wealth, has fallen in value.”

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Elon Musk (AP)

The company previously released a ballpark estimate that about 5% of accounts on the site are bots, and Musk seized on that figure and challenged it during the takeover saga, leading to the current legal standoff.

At the time of the takeover, Twitter gave Mr. Musk and his lawyers access to the company’s data so they could do their own analysis, but Mr. Musk’s team argued the data didn’t give them a clear picture.

In response, Twitter called Musk’s argument “incoherent.”

“Musk invents representations that Twitter has never made, and then attempts to selectively use the vast amounts of sensitive data that Twitter has given him to instigate a violation of those supposed representations,” Twitter said in a statement.

“However, Musk simultaneously and incoherently claims that Twitter violated the merger agreement by blocking his information requests.”

Court documents show that in their counterclaim, Musk and his lawyers suggest that their own analysis of the data provided to them by Twitter showed that, in fact, about 10% of Twitter accounts can be categorized as bots – and therefore Twitter has misrepresented your position.

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The social networking site called Musk’s argument incoherent (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

However, Twitter also responded to the claim, claiming that Mr. Musk’s team used a “universal web tool” to conduct this analysis, which they said had previously identified even Mr. Musk’s own account as a bot.

“This claim is untenable at first glance, because Musk does not measure the same thing as Twitter, and does not even use the same data as Twitter,” the company said in a statement.

“The result is a distortion that Musk hopes will nevertheless cause a wave.”

Twitter adds that Musk’s aggressive approach to the takeover deal meant he “refused” any due diligence.

“The counterclaims do not justify Musk’s plan to violate the merger agreement,” Twitter said.

“Musk claims he has the right to back out of a deal if Twitter “miscalculates” the number of fake or spam accounts on its platform. This is not true, as the facts and terms of the merger agreement show.

“When Musk offered to buy Twitter, he didn’t ask for — and Twitter didn’t make — any claims about the number of fake or spam accounts. The merger agreement does not contain any reference to false or spam accounts.

“Musk also did not ask Twitter for any information to “verify” the number of fake or spam accounts before he entered into the merger agreement. In contrast, Musk waived all scrutiny, giving Twitter 24 hours to accept his “take it or not” offer before presenting it directly to Twitter’s shareholders.”

The case is currently due to go to court in October.