After Tesla CEO Elon Musk and his lawyers informed the SEC earlier this month that he intended to pull out of a $44 billion deal to purchase social media company Twitter, he was quickly met with a lawsuit from Twitter designed to compel him to follow through on his contractual obligation to make the purchase.
Musk’s legal team told Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s top lawyer, that he was terminating the agreement over Twitter’s refusal to provide accurate information relating to the number of “bots” – or fake accounts – on the platform.
However, Twitter argues that Musk can’t simply pull out of the agreement.
On July 12, Twitter filed a lawsuit against the Tesla and Spacer X founder designed to compel him to follow through on the buyout.
“Musk refuses to honor his obligations to Twitter and its stockholders because the deal he signed no longer serves his personal interests,” Twitter says in the lawsuit. “Musk apparently believes that he — unlike every other party subject to Delaware contract law — is free to change his mind, trash the company, disrupt its operations, destroy stockholder value, and walk away.”
This week, Musk’s legal team responded to the suit by requesting that the trial be delayed until February of next year.
Twitter, however, wants the trial to occur in mid-September, citing the initial purchase agreement’s initial October 24th “presumptive drop-dead date.”
What Team Musk Says
According to a report from Bloomberg, Musk’s lawyers claim that Twitter is pushing for a “warp speed” trial and that more time is needed to prepare for the case in early 2023.
Musk has more than one reason to want to delay the trial, too. Not only will it give his team more time to prepare, but it will also allow his lawyers to better make the case that the issue of how many “bots” make up Twitter’s userbase is fundamental to the case. If Musk is successful in convincing the judge that the issue is relevant in the lawsuit, it would mean that Twitter could finally be compelled to provide the exact number of bot accounts active right now.
“Twitter’s sudden request for warp speed after two months of foot-dragging and obfuscation is its latest tactic to shroud the trust about spam accounts long enough to railroad defendants into closing,” Musk’s filing reads, almost confirming rumors that Musk had purposely pulled out of the deal to compel Twitter to take legal action.
Twitter declined to comment on the matter.
If Musk gets his way, the suit may force Twitter to reveal just how many of its users are bots – and if Musk’s hunch is correct, it could also reveal that Twitter is not being honest to advertisers about just how many people use the platform.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.