Elon Musk threatens to back out of Twitter deal over bot estimates (updated)

He claims opaque spam calculations are a 'material breach' of the merger agreement.


Elon Musk still isn't happy with Twitter's stance on bots and other fake accounts. As Bloomberg reports, Musk has amended an SEC filing to claim Twitter is committing a "material breach" of merger terms by allegedly refusing to disclose enough information about bot spam and fake account data. The social network's offer to provide additional info on its testing methods for bogus accounts is both inadequate and an attempt to "obfuscate and confuse" the situation, the Tesla chief said. In other words, he's concerned Twitter is trying to hide the true scope of its bot problem.

Musk reportedly needs the data to both prepare for the Twitter acquisition and to improve his financing of the deal, according to the filing. He also maintained that he neither needs to explain his reasoning for the data nor agree to new conditions to access any info.

We've asked Twitter for comment. The company has routinely claimed that bots and fake accounts represent less than five percent of daily users, but hasn't shared significantly more detail. Musk put his purchase "temporarily on hold" in mid-May as he sought to confirm that figure.

This isn't the only obstacle Musk's bid faces. Regulators in the European Union, for instance, have warned that the entrepreneur will still have to obey local content rules regardless of his desire to loosen Twitter's policies. If Musk and Twitter remain at odds over bot data, however, the $44 billion purchase could fall apart before it's even finalized.

Update 6/6 12:14PM ET: Twitter told Engadget in a statement that it has been and will still "cooperatively" share info with Musk in line with the agreement. You can read the full response below.

"Twitter has and will continue to cooperatively share information with Mr. Musk to consummate the transaction in accordance with the terms of the merger agreement. We believe this agreement is in the best interest of all shareholders. We intend to close the transaction and enforce the merger agreement at the agreed price and terms."