Twitter needs to give Musk more data on bots fighting for the deal

Twitter Inc. has been ordered to turn over more information about spam and bot accounts to Elon Musk as part of its legal battle to get the billionaire to complete its $44 billion acquisition of the social media platform.

Elaware Chancery Court Judge Kathaleen St. J. McCormick ruled Thursday that Twitter must release information about 9,000 accounts it polled last year in hopes of finding out which people were connected to them. Twitter tried to deny Musk access to this “historical snapshot” for privacy and other reasons.

Twitter “is also required to provide sufficient documentation to show how these 9,000 accounts were selected for review,” McCormick said in her decision. At a hearing Wednesday, Musk’s attorneys accused their Twitter colleagues of blocking them from pre-trial information sharing with the bots’ information.

Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment. “We look forward to reviewing the data that Twitter has been hiding for many months,” Alex Spiro, an attorney for Musk, said in an emailed statement.

Musk has said that misleading information from Twitter about the number of spam and bot accounts gives him a valid reason to end his $54.20 per share bid for the platform. Twitter counters that he is legally bound by the merger agreement and must complete the deal.

The bot poll decision was just one of several orders McCormick issued Thursday to address detection issues raised by both sides in the case. The judge didn’t give Musk all he wanted on the bot issue, noting that his demands for the data were “absurdly broad.”

She also ruled that Twitter doesn’t need to expand the date range of the documents it offers Musk when it comes to whether spam and robot accounts make up more than the 5 percent stated in the firm’s securities filing. But she also said Musk’s lawyers could withhold reports from their computer experts addressing the bot issues as a privileged work product.

While Twitter is required to release details about the 9,000 accounts, McCormick warned they are subject to strict confidentiality rules. “The historical snapshot data I ordered is highly sensitive,” the judge said, adding that Musk’s attorneys have agreed “to keep this data strictly confidential.”

At a hearing on Wednesday, one of Twitter’s lawyers was concerned about Musk’s propensity to share sensitive information in some of his tweets. Bradley Wilson, one of the platform’s lawyers, reminded McCormick that Twitter was asked to hand over user data to “someone who has publicly made fun of the company” and threatened to disclose their internal data.

Both sides are fighting for their position as they prepare for an Oct. 17 trial and are sending out a barrage of subpoenas to equity investors, advisers and banks involved in the proposed takeover. Earlier this week, ex-Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was subpoenaed along with whistleblower Peiter Zatko, who raised concerns about the bot issue before being fired from the platform.

The case is Twitter v. Musk, 22-0613, Delaware Chancery Court (Wilmington). Twitter needs to give Musk more data on bots fighting for the deal

Fry Electronics Team

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