According to a new SEC filing, Elon Musk backed out of a $44 billion deal to acquire Twitter. The filing indicates that Twitter failed to provide required information about the number of bots on the social media platform.
Bots are a chronic problem on Twitter. Operators have been accused of using them to spread propaganda and false information, shill minor altcoins, and spread scams. One common scam involved offering to send back two times the amount of crypto sent to an address or more.
That last is usually a bot but not always. One person from Florida and two more in Europe were arrested on charges related to hacking the Twitter accounts of Elon Musk and several other prominent figures to spread the crypto scam.
Meanwhile, Twitter indicated that it would pursue legal proceedings to force the deal to go through and ordered employees not to tweet about the deal. Twitter Chairman Bret Taylor expressed confidence that it could convince a Delaware court to push the deal through:
Twitter claims that only 5% of its accounts are bots. However, some have speculated the percentage could be as high as 50%.
The saga began when Elon Musk revealed a 9.2% stake in Twitter in a regulatory filing and indicated an interest in acquiring the social media company. The news naturally generated a considerable amount of social media chatter. Several Twitter employees reportedly quit their jobs in the wake of the finalized deal to acquire Twitter, saying that they did not want to work for the often abrasive Elon Musk.
Twitter had initially offered Musk a seat on its board of directors, but he turned it down due to the limitations it would put on his ability to grow his stake in Twitter.
Musk cited concerns about people’s ability to express themselves on social media without being censored. He called himself a “free speech absolutist” in one tweet. (He reportedly refused to block Russian propaganda sites on Starlink for the same reason even though he was perfectly willing to provide Starlink terminals to Ukraine.)
Many Twitter users expressed relief that the deal fell through or mocked Elon Musk. Others said that the entire drama revealed serious problems with Twitter.
Elon Musk may still be on the hook for a $1 billion penalty for walking away from the deal. It is possible that he was just looking for an excuse to walk away after a plummet in Tesla’s stock value – possibly making it harder for him to get a loan using his stock as collateral.
(Personally? I think he missed an opportunity to clean up Twitter a bit and add a marketplace that uses his favorite cryptocurrency, Dogecoin, as a payment option.)