Twitter responds to Musk’s claims, calling them ‘apologies’

SAN FRANCISCO — Twitter denied in a court filing that it had deprived its would-be acquirer, billionaire and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, any necessary information or misinformation about his company. Musk originally made those allegations to justify his attempt to pull out of a $44 billion deal to buy the social platform, which he later claimed was infested with far greater numbers of “spam bots” and fake accounts than Twitter disclosed. .

That fate of that acquisition, which Musk agreed to without taking the time to investigate the details of Twitter’s business, now rests with a Delaware court where Twitter filed a lawsuit to force Musk to close the deal. The case will go to court on October 17.

The court’s decision could ultimately determine the future of a social platform used every day by 238 million people around the world — a small audience by the standards of Facebook and other major platforms, but one that includes political leaders, major entertainers and experts on a variety of topics. Until January 2021, it was also the home of then-US President Donald Trump.

In an unexpected twist, Twitter was able to submit its response to Musk before Musk’s own counterclaims surfaced publicly. A judge ruled on Wednesday that Musk’s counterclaim will be made public on Friday.

However, parts of Musk’s counterclaim were included in Twitter’s response. These include accusing the company of fraud and “delaying tactics” and only providing Musk with “clean, incomplete information” in response to his questions about spam accounts and other company statistics. While Twitter claimed Musk is making up reasons to get out of the company’s acquisition, Musk’s lawyers say Twitter is the one holding back the deal by “draging” and providing insufficient data to the billionaire’s requests.

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In a response filed Thursday with the Delaware Chancery Court, Twitter calls Musk’s reasoning “a story conceived in an effort to escape a merger agreement that Musk no longer found appealing.”

“The counterclaims are a story made for a lawsuit that is contradicted by the evidence and common sense,” said Twitter’s response. Musk makes up statements Twitter never made and then selectively tries to use the extensive confidential data Twitter provided him to invoke a breach of those alleged statements.

At the same time, the response states, Musk also accused Twitter of violating their agreement by “blocking” his information requests.

Musk representatives did not immediately return a message for comment on Thursday, though Musk spoke briefly on Twitter on Thursday at Tesla’s annual shareholder meeting.

He told an audience at Tesla’s factory near Austin, Texas, that Twitter fitted his holding company’s grand vision. He said that since he uses Twitter a lot, with over 100 million followers, he knows what to do with it.

“I understand the product pretty well,” he said. “So I think I have a good idea of ​​where to point the technical team on Twitter to make it radically better,” he said.

Musk’s attorneys were scheduled to file a public version of their response and counterclaims in Delaware court on Wednesday. But Twitter attorneys complained that they needed more time to review and potentially edit Musk’s sealed application, saying it refers “extensively” to internal Twitter information and data provided to Musk.

Musk, the world’s richest man, agreed in April to buy Twitter and keep it private, offering $54.20 a share and promising to relax the company’s control over content and eradicate fake accounts. Musk said, among other things, that he would reinstate Trump – who was banned from Twitter in the US Capitol after the January 6, 2021 riots – on the platform.

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But Musk said in July that he wanted to get out of the deal, prompting Twitter to file a lawsuit to keep him from the “seller-friendly” agreement.

Musk says Twitter hasn’t given him enough information about the number of fake accounts on his service. Twitter argues that Musk, CEO of electric car maker and solar company Tesla Inc., is deliberately trying to stop the deal because market conditions have deteriorated and the acquisition no longer serves his interests.

Either Musk or Twitter would be entitled to a $1 billion termination fee if the other party is found responsible for the failure of the agreement. However, Twitter wants more, demanding a court order of “specific performance” instructing Musk to honor the deal.


Associated Press writer Randall Chase contributed to this story from Dover, Delaware.

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