According to Twitter lawyers, analysts paid by Elon Musk failed to prove that the proportion of fake accounts on the network was “significantly higher” than that estimated by the platform, the key argument of the boss of Tesla to justify its withdrawal from the network takeover agreement.
Three weeks before an unprecedented trial on the proposed takeover of the social network at 44 billion dollars, the lawyers of the two parties debated, on Tuesday, the legal elements to be provided during a preliminary hearing in the United States organized via Zoom.
Lawyers for the world’s richest man have again called for access to more data on inauthentic or automated accounts, and methods for calculating the number of “monetizable and daily active users”. Elon Musk indeed argues, in his letter of July 8 announcing the breach of contract, that the proportion of spam “greatly” exceeds the 5% of accounts estimated by Twitter.
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But two data analytics firms the businessman hired, Cyabra and CounterAction, pegged the rate at 11% and 5.3%, respectively, said Brad Wilson, a Twitter attorney. “None of these reports even remotely support what Elon Musk said to Twitter and to the world in his July 8 letter,” Brad Wilson said.
Mutual accusations of obstruction
At the beginning of July, the San Francisco-based group launched legal proceedings against Elon Musk, to force him to honor the acquisition contract signed at the end of April. According to the board of directors, the question of false accounts is a pretext put forward by the multi-billionaire, who would have changed his mind when he saw the value of companies falling on the stock market in recent months.
“Let’s skip the rhetoric and get to the heart of the matter,” exclaimed Judge Kathaleen McCormick, after more than three hours of argument where both sides accused each other of obstructing or abusing attorney-client privilege. . Those of Elon Musk believe in particular that Twitter asks them too much information about their exchanges with Peiter Zatko, former chief of security of the social network turned whistleblower, who accused his former company this summer of having concealed vulnerabilities. computers and lied about his fight against fake accounts.
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In early September, the judge allowed the defense to include these accusations in their arguments. Before this surprise intervention, the market gave the advantage to Twitter, the law being a priori favorable to the respect of contracts.
The legal battle expected at the end of October
The president of the court granted the company a speedy trial, while the multi-billionaire wanted to wait until next year and requested astronomical amounts of data. The trial is due to take place from October 17 to 21 in a specialized court in the state of Delaware (east coast of the United States), shortly after Elon Musk’s closed-door testimony, which was postponed to October 6 and 7. , according to the summons consulted by AFP.
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The legal battle could lead to “an agreement, payment of breach of contract fees, the obligation to take over Twitter as planned and a myriad of other results”, considers Dan Ives, of Wedbush Securities, in a note Tuesday. The analyst also continues to believe “possible that the parties negotiate behind the scenes.”