Economy. Twitter’s scathing complaint against Elon Musk contains messages that could cost him (very) expensive

Even on social networks, the billions at stake are not virtual: three days after having given up buying Twitter despite his formal commitment, Elon Musk is the subject of a complaint from Twitter which intends to obtain compensation.

The famous affair of the “5%” of fake accounts

These are the latest developments in a soap opera that began in the spring and which is causing the company’s stock market to waltz.

Reminder of the facts: the multi-billionaire signed an agreement in April committing it to buy Twitter for 44 billion dollars. Before publicly expressing multiple doubts about the company in April, suspending its promise in May, then abandoning it definitively on July 8. Over these turbulent weeks, the social network’s share price had fluctuated a lot according to Musk’s statements

Not handling the muffled language of business, he denounced – without proving it – a share of fake Twitter accounts greater than 5%. A point deemed “pretext” by Twitter, which disputes it, but at the heart of Musk’s speech.

On Tuesday evening, Musk again estimated that a complaint from Twitter would lead the company to disclose the number of fake accounts in court, in a four-part message showing him hilarious.

He assures that so far Twitter has never wanted to answer him. The social network says it has constantly responded to Elon Musk’s “ever more unreasonable” requests and, therefore, fulfilled its obligations.

A scathing complaint

This Wednesday, Twitter responded with a legal complaint to force Elon Musk to buy it back, otherwise he would face heavy financial penalties.

The complaint, available here, is scathing: “After performing in public […] Musk apparently believes he has the right – unlike every other entity under Delaware law – to change his mind, demolish the company’s reputation, disrupt its operations, destroy value for shareholders and walk away,” the Twitter reps wrote.

The social network asks the courts to “prevent Elon Musk from further violating the contract” … and to carry out the takeover, under the conditions provided: at 54 dollars per share, which fell on Tuesday around 35 dollars .

Twitter rightly believes that Elon Musk not only gave up in the face of the drop in the stock, but above all that he himself fueled this fall, before recanting.

Musk’s ‘disparaging’ tweets

To demonstrate this, many tweets from the multi-billionaire are quoted. So the famous adorned with a simple turd, addressed to the CEO of the social network last May:

Anecdotal or humorous? Not at all: Twitter recalls in its complaint that the signed agreement committed both parties to avoid “any denigration”. But the tone of the exchanges is anything but light.

A covenant of cordiality that was also allegedly “violated” by Musk on May 17, when he publicly called on the US securities regulator (the SEC) to investigate:

Hello SEC. There is someone here?

Elon Musk, May 17

In the process, Musk had openly called on Internet users to make fun of the social network … on which each message can be seen by its 101 million subscribers, retweets not included.

A question known to Musk from the start

Then, Twitter wants to demonstrate that the story of “fake accounts” is only a pretext, and that Elon Musk knew very well that they existed before committing. In support, this message of April 21 – before the signing of the agreement:

If our offer goes to the end, we will defeat spam and bots (robots using fake accounts, editor’s note)

Elon Musk on April 21

The document also tells how Musk pressured Twitter administrators and multiplied threats to sell his shares or withdraw his offer, each time causing the share price to fall.

As, for example, when he “temporarily suspended” his commitment on May 13, “without any prior consultation with Twitter”, assures the company:

“How ironic, lol! »

When Twitter’s complaint was announced, the billionaire simply reacted… on Twitter: “Oh, what an irony, lol”, he simply blurted out.

If he wants to win in court, Elon Musk will have to prove that the number of fake Twitter accounts is well over 5%… but also that this has a lasting effect on the company’s financial health.

But if it seems difficult for lawyers to force him to buy Twitter, the same believe that his arguments will be at best unverifiable, and at worst countered by Twitter. The drama is far from over…

> In video: who is Elon Musk?

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