Elon Musk is seeking to end his $44bn (£36bn) bid to buy Twitter, alleging multiple breaches of the agreement. The announcement is the latest twist in a long-running saga after the world’s richest person decided to buy Twitter in April, reports BBC. Mr Musk said he had backed out because Twitter failed to provide enough information on the number of spam and fake accounts. Twitter says it plans to pursue legal action to enforce the agreement.
“The Twitter Board is committed to closing the transaction on the price and terms agreed upon with Mr. Musk,” Twitter chairman Bret Taylor wrote in a tweet, setting up a potentially long and protracted legal battle between the two sides.
The original merger agreement includes a $1bn (£830m) break-up fee. In May, Mr Musk said the deal was “temporarily on hold” as he was awaiting data on the number of fake and spam accounts on Twitter. The billionaire businessman had asked for evidence to back the company’s assertion that spam and bot accounts make up less than 5% of its total users.
This article doesn’t mention it, but someone I was talking to in person made the argument that Musk may well be continuing with the purchase, just for a lower price. I can only give you secondhand and half remembered legal arguments, but they were arguing that Twitter will have a very difficult time in court, considering they allegedly refused to provide the evidence that they agreed to provide Musk. Furthermore they could be getting sued by the other shareholders, since they could potentially be seeing their share price crater due to malfeasance on the part of Twitter management. All of this gives Musk some leverage to continue with the Twitter purchase, but at a lower price.
Take that with a grain of salt.
In a letter filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Mr Musk’s lawyer said Twitter had failed or refused to provide this information. “Sometimes Twitter has ignored Mr. Musk’s requests, sometimes it has rejected them for reasons that appear to be unjustified, and sometimes it has claimed to comply while giving Mr. Musk incomplete or unusable information,” the letter reads.
Spam accounts are designed to spread information to large numbers of people and manipulate the way they interact with the platform. On Thursday, Twitter said it removed around 1 million such accounts each day. Mr Musk believes that spam or bot accounts could account for 20% or more of Twitter users.
Shares in Twitter fell by 7% in extended trading after the announcement.
Elon Musk has for weeks been trying to get information about how many daily active users Twitter has. Twitter has a problem with bots. In fact only yesterday it said it removed a million spam accounts a day. In a filing, Mr Musk said he’d repeatedly been refused information about the number of bot accounts on Twitter – which is why he wished to terminate the deal.
Elon Musk though has already put pen to paper on this deal, and it is not totally clear whether he can back out at this stage. Mr Musk will need to prove that Twitter breached their agreement.
And not just the ones we made. Musk has a pretty good sense of humour himself.
My honest analysis is that Musk not buying twatter is actually good for us. With Orange Faggot Trump being banned these platforms have delegitimized themselves. Anyone, especially a politician, who is still on twitter is simply allowed to be. And that’s not just us saying that, everyone in the public knows it as well.
Musk was talking about bringing back Bloviating Orange Zionist, while potentially not allowing the “far-right and far-left.” That would have been a worst case scenario for us, where these censorious companies gain more legitimacy, while still censoring legitimate populists. Best case scenario for us was us all getting our accounts back without censorship, but even then I’m not so sure that’d be the godsend that many people believe.
Social media was always mostly a waste of time, with very little productive purpose. Everyone recognizing that it’s an astroturfed echo chamber for the privileged class is politically useful to us, and actual political organization never required twatter anyway. So we can skip the timesink that is twatter, and then point to our political opposition as a means of delegitimizing them.
What’s more, these social media companies are extreme examples of winner takes all markets. Twitter and Facebook aren’t actual tech companies, they’re shitty websites where the userbase is 99.99% the value and the “technology,” is 0.01% of the value. Musk could easily start up a twatter competitor that is technologically just as functional, and get a critical mass of users.
If he was really serious about censorship, he’d be doing the same for YouTube and Facebook. YouTube is a bit different, being something of an actual tech project, but Facebook is just a shitty website. Even with YouTube he could get some software developers to cook something up in a few months and improve it from there.
I’m not convinced that Musk really cares. We shall see how committed Musk is to free speech as opposed to free publicity. For more information, you can read his interview with us here.