A Delaware judge called Elon Musk’s request for years of data about Twitter Inc.’s spam and fake accounts “absurdly broad” but ordered the social-media company to provide a subset of the information in the continuing legal battle over the billionaire’s soured $44 billion takeover, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Chancellor Kathaleen McCormick said in a decision Thursday that the request by Mr. Musk’s legal team to compel the company to produce “trillions upon trillions of data points” for more than 200 million users was overly burdensome and “no one in their right mind has ever tried to undertake such an effort.”
According to The Wall Street Journal, the judge ordered Twitter to produce a narrower section of the data requested, including a historical snapshot of accounts that were reviewed by the company to determine the number of spam and fake accounts on its platform, an issue central to the dispute over Mr. Musk’s effort to terminate the merger agreement and substantiate his counterclaim of fraud.
The Washington Post reported that Musk had been angling to exit the deal since he terminated his agreement in July, after agreeing to purchase the social media giant for $44 billion in April. Twitter sued shortly after, followed by a countersuit from Musk.
According to The Washington Post, Musk’s team had been seeking information that could more deeply reveal Twitter’s internal methodologies and understanding of the bot issue. Musk’s lawyers referenced a whistleblower complaint obtained by The Washington Post during a Wednesday hearing, in which former head of security Peiter Zatko alleges Twitter was not incentivized to accurately count bots and spam.
The Verge reported that Musk’s lawyers wanted “all of the data Twitter might possibly store for each of the approximately 200 million accounts included in its mDAU count every day for nearly three years,” covering trillions of data points, McCormick wrote in her ruling “Plaintiff [Twitter] has difficulty quantifying the burden of responding to that request because no one in their right mind has ever tried to undertake such an effort. It suffices to say, Plaintiff has demonstrated that such a request is overly burdensome.”
Personally, I think this push for “all the data Twitter might possibly store” for three years is a tactic being used by Musk’s lawyers in an effort to get out of the $44 billon agreement that he signed with Twitter. I believe that Elon Musk is very likely going to be willing to spend whatever it takes to sever himself from the deal that he signed with Twitter – and then changed his mind about. In this situation, it appears Musk and his lawyers want to be as annoying as possible – until Musk gets what he wants.
According to The Verge, however, the judge partially agreed to Twitter’s request for documents from Musk’s side as Twitter pursues information on data analysis Musk performed before he attempted to exit the deal. “At a minimum, Defendants must produce the Analyses,” writes [Judge] McCormick, as well as identification of related information on a privilege log so that Twitter’s lawyers could request access to specific documents.