Business: The drama between Musk and Twitter is turning political

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The drama continues about Elon Musk’s efforts to get out of his deal to buy Twitter Inc.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton tweeted this:

The press release is … so dumb? 

Twitter has received intense scrutiny in recent weeks over claiming in its financial regulatory filings that fewer than 5% of all users are bots, when they may in fact comprise as much as 20% or more. The difference could dramatically affect the cost to Texas consumers and businesses who transact with Twitter.  

To address this concern, Attorney General Paxton issued a Civil Investigative Demand (CID) to investigate whether Twitter’s reporting on real versus fake users is “false, misleading, or deceptive” under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. The CID requires Twitter to turn over documents related to how it calculates and manages its user data and how these numbers relate to Twitter’s advertising businesses. Twitter has until June 27 to respond to Attorney General Paxton’s Demand.  

To be clear, Twitter has claimed that bots are fewer than 5% of “monetizable daily active users” (not “all users”) for eight years, and the “intense scrutiny in recent weeks” consists entirely of Elon Musk claiming, with no evidence, that there are a lot of bots because he regrets agreeing to buy Twitter for $54.20 per share just before a market crash. This is a regulatory investigation entirely for the purposes of trolling: Paxton is harassing Twitter because (1) Musk moved to Texas, (2) Musk announced, like two weeks ago, that he’s a Republican, (3) Musk has a passionate fan base on Twitter, and (4) Musk is trying to rile up that fan base against Twitter by complaining about bots. So Paxton is happy to hitch himself to that: If he harasses Twitter on Musk’s behalf, he will endear himself to Musk’s fans online, which seems valuable for an elected official though not, of course, for his constituents, or for the rule of law. The fact that this is all completely fake is beside the point, as is the fact that Paxton himself is currently under indictment for felony securities fraud. This all seems bad! I don’t know what to tell you! This is not how one wants one’s democracy to be going!