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27
August
2022

Judge orders Twitter to turn over to Elon Musk data from 2021 users audit

Elon Musk may get access to Twitter data used in a 2021 audit of active users but other information the billionaire seeks in a bid to end his $44bn deal to buy the company were rejected as “absurdly broad”, a judge said on Thursday.

Twitter must turn over data from the 9,000 accounts sampled in the fourth quarter as part of its process to estimate the number of spam accounts.

Twitter had said that data did not exist and it would be burdensome to collect it. Chancellor Kathaleen McCormick gave the company two weeks to produce the data.

Musk has claimed the company defrauded him by misrepresenting the number of real users in its financial disclosures that he relied on to make his takeover offer and he wanted the data to confirm Twitter’s spam estimates.

“We look forward to reviewing the data Twitter has been hiding for many months,” said Alex Spiro, Musk’s attorney, in an emailed statement.

Twitter declined to comment.

A five-day trial has been scheduled for 17 October.

McCormick also rejected many of Musk’s other data demands.

“Defendants’ data requests are absurdly broad. Read literally, defendants’ documents request would require plaintiff to produce trillions upon trillions of data points,” she wrote.

Musk, the world’s richest person, has said he wants to test that audit’s accuracy because he believes the company fraudulently misrepresented that only 5% of its accounts were spam. He wants McCormick to rule he can walk away from the deal.

Twitter wants McCormick to order Musk to close the deal at the agreed price of $54.20 per share. The shares briefly rose about 1% after the ruling and ended up 0.6% at $41.05.

Twitter said at a Wednesday court hearing that Musk’s focus on spam was “legally irrelevant” because the company has described the spam count in regulatory filings as an estimate, not a representation. It also said the real level of spam could be higher.

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