DOVER, Del. – A Delaware judge ordered both Twitter and Tesla CEO Elon Musk to turn over more information to opposing lawyers in their tussle over Musk's agreed-to-then-abandoned $44 billion deal to acquire the social platform.
Chancellor Kathaleen St. Jude McCormick on Thursday ordered Twitter to provide Musk’s attorneys more data regarding the company’s estimates that less than 5% of the accounts on its platform are fake. The judge also rejected Musk's attempts to shield details about analyses he used in his attempt to terminate the deal.
That work was done by data scientists who examined live-feed information from Twitter about public user accounts to test the company's daily-user counts.
Musk claims that Twitter has failed to provide enough detail about the number of fake accounts on its platform, and argues that up to 30% of Twitter’s “monetizable daily active users,” or mDAU, could be spam or bot accounts. Twitter says the mDAU metric helps it measure the number of accounts on its platform that advertisers can target, thus making them “monetizable.”
Musk, the world’s richest man, agreed in April to buy Twitter and take it private, offering $54.20 a share and vowing to loosen the company’s policing of content and to root out fake accounts. Twitter shares closed Thursday at $41.05.
Musk indicated in July that he wanted to back away from the deal, prompting Twitter to file a lawsuit to force him to carry through with the acquisition.
The judge rejected more comprehensive data requests from Musk’s attorneys as “absurdly broad,” noting that a literal reading of the request would require Twitter to produce “trillions upon trillions of data points” reflecting all data collected on roughly 200 million accounts over three years.
But McCormick did order Twitter to produce information on 9,000 accounts that were reviewed in connection with company’s fourth-quarter audit, a data subset that has been described as a “historical snapshot.”
McCormick also ordered Twitter to turn over documents regarding other metrics, regardless of whether they expressly address mDAU. Musk’s attorneys have suggested that a comparison of Twitter’s mDAU with other metrics, such as “User Active Minutes,” could support their theory that the company has fraudulently misled investors and securities regulators about the scope of activity on its platform.