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What just happened? The latest argument in the Twitter vs. Elon Musk fight has seen the social media company claim the two analyst firms Musk hired to count bots on the platform found fewer than he expected. Twitter lawyers also say the CEO's legal team has, until recently, been withholding this data.
The world's richest man has long claimed he abandoned the Twitter deal because it lied about the number of accounts that are fakes/bots. Twitter says it's around 5%; Musk claims it could be higher than 20%.
On May 13, Musk tweeted that the Twitter deal was on hold while he investigated Twitter's 5% claim. A month later, Musk said the acquisition was in "serious jeopardy" over the issue. He hired two analysis companies to look into it: Cyabra, which estimated the number of fakes/bots to be 11%, and CounterAction, which said that bot accounts made up 5.3% of all users. Musk abandoned the deal a couple of days later.
A Twitter lawyer (via Insider) said the findings are "very much in line with Twitter's claims," adding that "None of these analyses remotely supported what Mr. Musk told the Twitter parties and told the world in the termination letter he served up on July 8."
The lawyer also claims that Musk's legal team has been purposely withholding the findings. Twitter's representatives have been trying to see the information since the lawsuit began, but it was only made available yesterday (Tuesday).
"If there are any analyses that exist that actually substantiate what Mr. Musk told Twitter and told the world, they certainly have not been produced in discovery in this case," the lawyer said.
CounterAction's 5.3% figure does line up with Twitter's numbers. And while Cyabra's 11% is lower than Musk's belief that over a fifth of Twitter accounts are fake, it's still more than double what the company claims.
The five-day Twitter/Musk trial begins on October 17. The company wants the acquisition to complete for the original $44 billion price, while Musk wants to walk away without paying the $1 billion termination fee. There were rumors earlier this week that a settlement might have been reached after a deposition meeting involving Musk and Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal was canceled, but a new deposition is scheduled for today.