New Delhi: A whistleblower’s revelation on bots provided grounds to Elon Musk’s lawyers in forcing the social media platform Twitter to surrender information on Wednesday in its legal fight to abandon the billionaire’s buyout deal. In a hearing scheduled for Musk’s lawyers requesting more information on Twitter’s data on spam and bots, one of Musk’s biggest claims to abandon the deal, attorney Alex Spiro repeatedly cited Twitter’s ex-security chief Peiter Zatko during a 90-minute heated court hearing. “The way Zatko puts it, management had no appetite to properly measure the prevalence of bot accounts,” Spiro told Judge Kathaleen McCormick in a court in the eastern state of Delaware, reported news agency AFP.
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Musk tried to exit the $44 billion agreement accusing Twitter of misleading him on the number of false or spam accounts that was followed by strong denials and a lawsuit from the social media firm.
A few verdicts went in favour of Musk in early battles in the case, including a fast-track trial date, and the stock had risen as analysts have predicted the platform would prevail over the mercurial billionaire.
War of Words
Spiro made an attempt to convince the judge to order Twitter to hand over billions of “data points,” including user phone numbers and locations stating that the information is crucial to prove Twitter was dishonest about spam accounts.
Twitter lawyer Bradley Wilson responded to the demand saying the company deceived nobody, and that Musk wants a “do-over” on questions which he should have asked before he decided to make unsolicited buyout offer early this year.
While Twitter pointed out that Musk opted not to perform due diligence typically seen in merger deals, Spiro countered saying the billionaire trusted the firm’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
The market watchdog has also received the Zatko’s complaint, which accuses Twitter of issuing untrue statements on account numbers because “if accurate measurements ever became public, it would harm the image and valuation of the company.”
Even as the judge has not yet issued a ruling on Musk’s attorneys’ data demands, Zatko’s impact could get clearer after his planned testimony before US lawmakers on September 13.
Its attorney Wilson argued not handing over certain types of data for reasons including the potential to violate user privacy protected by law, as per the report.
“They want a do-over; they want to recount the spam,” he said of Musk’s team. “They want to get all of the information that the reviewers had so that they can have their experts, I presume, do a count of their own and see if they can come up with a different number.”