Business

Judge Called Elon Musk’s Request Absurd, Handed Him a Half-Win


  • A judge partially granted Elon Musk’s demand for more data from Twitter on “bots.”
  • Twitter is now required to deliver information on several thousand more reviews of spam accounts.
  • Musk did not get all that he wanted, with the judge calling his request “absurdly broad.”

Elon Musk’s legal team scored another win in its $44 billion court battle with Twitter, but the judge also chastised the billionaire for his “absurdly broad” request for data.

Judge Kathleen St. J. McCormick of Delaware on Thursday ordered Twitter to turn over some additional data demanded by the billionaire as the two sides fight over whether Musk has to acquire the company for $44 billion.

Twitter now has to give Musk’s legal team information on an additional 9,000 Twitter accounts reviewed in the final quarter of last year, according to the order. These account reviews were used by Twitter executives to continue estimating that less than 5% of accounts considered monetizable are spam. Such accounts are often referred to as “bots” and are typically those that promote scams or are operated in bulk for some other purpose.

But Musk was seeking information on essentially all of Twitter’s account reviews and actions. Judge McCormick dubbed that request “absurdly broad,” noting Twitter has already agreed to produce a “tremendous amount information.”

She chastised Musk’s demand by writing in her order. “No one in their right mind has ever tried to undertake such an effort.” She said such production would mean “trillions upon trillions of data points” be collected and handed over.

The company has previously given Musk access to its “full firehose” of account data, along with other levels of access. So far in the lawsuit, it’s also agreed or been ordered to provide information and correspondence from executives and employees and said Musk has analyzed so much data already there was real concern that he was looking to build a competing app. Lawyers for Twitter reiterated those concerns in a Wednesday hearing. Twitter is suing him in an effort to force him to buy the company at the agreed-upon price.

A Twitter spokesperson declined to comment. Alex Spiro, a lead lawyer for Musk, said, “We look forward to reviewing the data Twitter has been hiding for many months.”

In his counterclaims against Twitter, Musk said the platform intentionally mislead investors regarding the company’s prospects by “miscounting” the number of spam accounts on the site. Twitter has said Musk’s complaints are merely an excuse for him to walk away from the deal, which became less attractive to him financially as the stock market took a downward turn.

Judge McCormick also issued two other orders on Thursday, both against Musk.

In one, she rejected his position that the independent data analysts he used to analyze the previous Twitter data he had should be protected from discovery. The judge ruled that they are not “privileged” parties and are instead relevant to the issues in the case.

In another order, she denied Musk’s request to get data from “a more extensive date range,” citing the “additional burden” it would place on Twitter and “the large volume of documents” the company has already handed over.

The rulings come just a few days after an explosive whistleblower complaint was publicized from a former Twitter executive. Musk’s legal team is already attempting to bring the allegation into the court battle and filed letters regarding the disclosure with the court on Wednesday. Experts have told Insider the claims are unlikely to score a win for the billionaire.

The case will go to a five-day trial in October in Delaware Chancery Court.

Are you a Twitter employee or someone with insight to share? Contact Kali Hays at [email protected], on secure messaging app Signal at 949-280-0267, or through Twitter DM at @hayskali. Reach out using a non-work device.



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