Following Elon Musk’s lead, Texas AG investigates Twitter over bots – Vidak For Congress

As Elon Musk tries to wriggle free from his obligation to buy Twitter, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton steps in to interfere for the newly minted Texan.

Paxton just announced that his office is investigating how Twitter can “mislead Texans” about the number of automated bots on its platform.

“It matters not only to regular Twitter users, but also to Texas businesses and advertisers who use Twitter for their livelihood,” Paxton said. “If Twitter is misrepresenting how many accounts are faked to increase revenue, I have a duty to protect Texans.”

Paxton says he has requested documents from Twitter through a Civil Investigative Demand to determine whether the company’s bot estimates violate the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. According to the Texas AG website, people affected by illegal practices may be able to claim damages under the law. The company has until June 27 to produce the documents.

Sudden interest in Twitter spam

Since nothing has changed about Twitter’s long-standing bot situation — a situation Musk was so familiar with before committing to buying Twitter that he specifically mentioned it as something he would improve upon — Paxton’s gesture appears to be meant to carry water for the billionaire Tesla CEO.

It’s hard to imagine too many Texans losing sleep over Twitter’s bot estimates. It is much more likely that Paxton’s research is merely a political signal in an election year. Paxton is running for re-election in November after beating George P. Bush in a primary at the end of last month.

It makes sense for the Texas AG to join an ideological lightning rod that has brought its high-tech company to the state, even if its office’s sudden interest in Twitter’s spam isn’t. Musk left California for the Lone Star State towards the end of 2020 after being horrified by state restrictions to contain the spread of COVID. He took Tesla with him and the company moved to Texas last year.

Paxton is also currently pressuring Twitter and other social media companies with HB 20, a law inviting Texans to sue platforms for their content moderation practices. The Supreme Court blocked the law last month after a federal appeals court lifted a temporary injunction against the law.

Musk (again) doubts the Twitter deal

Musk has been cold-hearted about the Twitter deal during the current market downturn and has repeatedly complained that the social media company misled him about the number of non-human users on his platform. Musk, who loves to conduct pseudo-scientific polls of his Twitter followers, argues that Twitter’s methodology for measuring bots is flawed. In a letter to Twitter’s chief legal officer on Monday, Musk’s intentions to either pull out of the deal or reprice the deal were made clear.

“This is a clear material breach of Twitter’s obligations under the merger agreement and Mr. Musk reserves all rights arising therefrom, including his right not to complete the transaction and his right to terminate the merger agreement,” his legal statement wrote. team.

In May, Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal explained the company’s approach to spam and bots, noting that the issue is featured regularly in its quarterly financial reports. “Our actual internal estimates for the last four quarters were all well below 5% – based on the methodology described above,” Agrawal tweeted. “The margins of error on our estimates give us confidence in our public statements every quarter.”

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