Musk threatens to scratch $44B Twitter takeover bid, says company ‘thwarting’ fake account inquiries

The ongoing Elon Musk Twitter saga has taken another dramatic turn.

The billionaire founder of SpaceX and Tesla has had a rocky ride to acquiring full ownership of the notorious social media platform — and the most recent news suggests things are about to get a lot rockier. Musk has vowed to back out of his deal to purchase Twitter because the company is “resisting and thwarting” his legitimate right to acquire more information about the proportion of fake and spam accounts lurking on the platform, according to the Daily Mail.

And it’s clear the electric vehicle and space exploration magnate isn’t mincing words. Musk alleges that Twitter is in “clear material breach” of its obligations to disclose the required information, and that he “reserves all rights” to put an end to his acquisition of the company, according to the British newspaper. Things are about to get real.

This most recent wrinkle in the merger deal dates back to mid-May, when Musk announced that the entire negotiation was on hold, and that he could not “move forward” with the acquisition until Parag Agrawal, Twitter’s CEO, could prove to his satisfaction that less than 5% of Twitter’s accounts are phony “bot” and spam accounts.

Musk even used a clever analogy, comparing the situation to a homebuyer agreeing to buy a house with less than 5% termites — only to later discover that the whole rotten edifice is infested with something like 90% termites, and is on the verge of being condemned.

An audit performed by a software company also indicated that up to 50% of the followers of some accounts—such as, for instance, Joe Biden’s—are completely fake. It might be even worse for Elon Musk, with the same audit suggesting that a whopping 70% of the billionaire’s followers are not authentic or active users.

As reported in the Daily Mail, Musk’s attorney dispatched a letter to Twitter on Monday informing the company that the agreement requires the social media platform to disclose the desired information, and rejected the alleged counterclaim by Twitter that it only has to provide certain information that is germane to the “limited purpose” of sealing the deal.

“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,'” the letter reads, according to the Mail.

“Musk believes Twitter is transparently refusing to comply with its obligations under the merger agreement, which is causing further suspicion that the company is withholding the requested data due to concern for what Musk’s own analysis of that data will uncover.”

Yikes. Sounds like something awfully fishy is going on at Twitter. It’s enough to make one wonder just how many actual users are present on Twitter. Is the whole thing fake? Musk’s letter apparently goes on to wonder why, if Twitter stands by its published estimate of fewer than 5% fake accounts, the company won’t allow him to “independently evaluate those estimates.”

Some Twitter users wondered what the news means for the future of free speech on the platform.

Others think the current price tag for the acquisition is far too inflated, and—amidst the slew of even worse economic news that seems inevitable in Biden’s America—believe Musk is wisely looking to renegotiate the deal, given that Twitter now seems grossly overvalued.

So the Twitter-Musk drama continues, and as entertainment goes, it’s far more compelling than most of the stale gruel that comes out of Hollywood these days. The question is: was Musk ever serious about acquiring Twitter, or did he just want to suss out its internal numbers and expose the platform for the fraud he evidently suspects it to be?

As former President Trump always says: “We’ll see.”


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Todd Jaquith


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