Tesla CEO Elon Musk is well aware that his tweets can cost him millions and land him in court. Does that give him pause? Certainly not. Twitter, which is suing the billionaire for attempting the terminate his $US44 ($61) billion deal to acquire the company, is no doubt giddy over Musk’s lack of self-control and didn’t hesitate to cite his tweets as evidence in its lawsuit.
Filed on Tuesday in Delaware’s Chancery Court, the social media company included countless of the tech billionaire’s tweets to make its case. Twitter is suing Musk to try to force him to go through with his signed agreement to acquire it. The company argues that once the market turned sour — which affected Tesla, the billionaire’s largest source of wealth, and countless other tech companies — Musk wanted out of the deal and tried to fabricate a justification to pull out.
Musk disputes Twitter’s account and stated through his lawyers that the social media platform had violated the merger agreement by refusing to share required information on spam bots and misrepresenting the number of spam bots on its platform. He also points out that Twitted fired top executives, slowed hiring, and failed to retain key personnel — actions that also constitute a violation.
While it will be a few months before this case goes to trial, if the court decides to let it proceed, that doesn’t mean we can’t take out our magnifying glasses and examine the evidence ourselves. Up next, you’ll find the 10 Musk tweets that Twitter thought were so important it included screenshots. They are not, by far, the only tweets referenced in the lawsuit.
Do they help the company’s case or is it a fail? You be the judge.
Musk Says He Wants to ‘Defeat the Spam Bots’
Before the Tesla CEO began using the spam bots on Twitter’s platform as an excuse to get out of the acquisition deal, he cheerfully declared on April 21 that he would “defeat the spam bots or die trying!” Musk and Twitter announced their merger deal on April 25.
Musk had always known there were spam bots on Twitter, and frequently expressed annoyance with them. According to Twitter, on April 9, the day Musk announced he wanted to buy Twitter, he texted company board chairman Bret Taylor and stated that purging fake users from the platform had to be done once Twitter was a private company because it would “make the numbers look terrible.” Furthermore, on April 14, Musk said that eliminating spam bots would be a “top priority” for him at Twitter, the lawsuit states.
Musk Tweets the Twitter Deal Is ‘Temporarily on Hold’
A little more than two weeks after announcing the deal to acquire Twitter, Musk tweeted on May 13 that the deal is “temporarily on hold,” linking to a Reuters story about the company’s filings on spam bots. He explained that he was waiting for information to support the company’s assertation that spam accounts represented less than 5% of its users.
You can almost hear Twitter’s face palm in the lawsuit.
“The Reuters story Musk linked to in his tweet was a report on Twitter’s 10-Q filing made on May 2, 2022, and contained the same heavily qualified 5% estimate Twitter had been disclosing in its SEC filings for the past three years,” the company’s lawyers wrote.
Musk Says He Will Carry Out a Random Sampling on 100 Users to Confirm the Number of Spam Bots
Musk was not done tweeting on May 13, however. After tweeting that he was still “committed” to the deal, he declared that he was going to analyse a random sample of 100 users on Twitter and find out how many of them were bots. The billionaire then encouraged his millions of followers to do the same and “see what they discover.”
“Any sensible random sampling process is fine. If many people independently get similar results for % of fake/spam/duplicate accounts, that will be telling,” Musk said on May 13. “I picked 100 as the sample size number, because that is what Twitter uses to calculate In Twitter’s view, this amounted to a public misrepresentation, especially considering the fact that it had met with Musk before he tweeted and informed him that its “spam estimation process entails daily sampling for a total set of approximately 9,000 accounts per quarter that are manually reviewed.”
Twitter Complains That Musk Violated Merger Agreement
One day later, on May 14, Musk ranted in a tweet about Twitter calling his team to complain that he violated his NDA by purportedly revealing the sample size they use to check their bot numbers, he said. Twitter cites Musk’s tweet as proof that he “boasted publicly” about breaking the nondisclosure agreements, which to me is a bit of stretch. He sounds more annoyed.
Nonetheless, Twitter maintains that the tweets on May 13 and 14 violated Musk’s obligations under the deal, “including the provisions prohibiting public comments not consented to by Twitter, disparagement, misuse of information provided under Section 6.4, requiring best efforts to consummate the merger.”
Musk Responds to Twitter CEO Agrawal With a Poop Emoji
Two days later, Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal tried to address questions regarding spam accounts on the platform and published a thread explaining the company’s process. In those tweets, the Twitter CEO explains that the company uses a manual human review of thousands of tweets as well as public and private data to reach its spam determinations. Agrawal also stated that he believed that it was not possible to conduct an external estimation of spam bots on Twitter due to the “critical need to use both public and private information (which we can’t share).”
Musk’s response: a poop emoji, which Twitter in its lawsuit pointed out was another disparagement against the company.
Musk Calls on SEC, Which He Dislikes, to Investigate Twitter
On May 17, Musk conducted a poll and asked whether the public believed that 95% of Twitter’s users were “real, unique humans.” The answers, however, were a crying while laughing emoji and “Who me?!” followed by the robot emoji. Out of the 1.5 million votes cast, 52% chose the crying while laughing emoji. Furthermore, in response to a user suggesting that the Securities and Exchange Commission should investigate whether Twitter lied in its official filings, Musk called on the agency himself.
“Hello @SECGov, anyone home?” Musk tweeted. Twitter alleges in its suit that this was yet another violation of the billionaire’s non-disparagement agreement.
Hello @SECGov, anyone home?— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 17, 2022
Musk Posts Meme of Himself and Reveals His True Intentions, According to Twitter
Days after informing Twitter that he wished to terminate the acquisition deal, Musk returned to one of his favourite past times, posting memes. This past Monday, he tweeted a meme of himself insinuating that Twitter will have to disclose the “true” number of spam bots on its platform in court. According to Twitter, this meme is proof that Musk’s data requests weren’t made in an effort to help him make an assessment to move forward with the deal.
“In the early morning of July 11 (Eastern time), Musk posted Tweets implying that his data requests were never intended to make progress toward consummating the merger, but rather were part of a plan to force litigation in which Twitter’s information would be publicly disclosed,” Twitter wrote, adding screenshots of Musk’s meme tweet and another tweet featuring Chuck Norris.
In the meme featuring Norris, Musk wrote, “Chuckmate,” which seems to imply that he had ultimately prevailed. Whether he feels he succeeded in getting out of the deal or getting even more information on Twitter’s spam bots isn’t yet clear. Twitter’s outrage on Musk’s behaviour is palpable in its lawsuit.
“For Musk, it would seem, Twitter, the interests of its stockholders, the transaction Musk agreed to, and the court process to enforce it all constitute an elaborate joke,” the company said.
Musk to SEC: ‘Hello, it’s me’
Also on July 11, Musk again responded to a user who indicated that the SEC should investigate Twitter’s assertions about the number of spam bots on its platform.
“Hello??? @SECGov,” Musk tweeted. All he needed was a “it’s me” to turn this into an Adele song.
In reference to the call to the regulatory agency, Twitter stated that it was clear that Musk wanted out of the “binding agreement” no one forced him to enter into and also “damage Twitter in the process.”
I mean, the company isn’t wrong. The open question now is how much damage Musk will inflict in this situation and whether the social media platform can survive it.
Considering Musk’s obsession with Twitter and attention, there’s no doubt that Twitter will have to update its lawsuit in the near future to include even more tweets. Will they be enough to tilt the case in Twitter’s favour? Only time will tell.