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Judge grants Musk request for additional data in Twitter trial

Musk’s team had sought more information about Twitter’s calculation of daily active users

Elon Musk. (Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

SAN FRANCISCO — A Delaware judge granted Elon Musk additional data in his dispute with Twitter over ownership of the website, ruling Thursday that Twitter should hand over more detailed information on its tallying of bot and spam accounts a day after attorneys invoked an explosive whistleblower complaint in court.

Musk has been angling to exit the deal since he terminated his agreement in July, after agreeing to purchase the social media giant for $44 billion in April. Twitter sued shortly after, followed by a countersuit from Musk.

Musk alleges Twitter has been vastly undercounting the true amount of bot and spam accounts on Twitter, which the company estimates at less than 5 percent of monetizable daily active users.

New whistleblower allegations could factor into Twitter vs. Musk trial

Musk’s team had been seeking information that could more deeply reveal Twitter’s internal methodologies and understanding of the bot issue. Musk lawyers referenced a whistleblower complaint obtained by The Washington Post during a Wednesday hearing, in which former head of security Peiter Zatko alleges Twitter was not incentivized to accurately count bots and spam.

“Defendants’ data requests are absurdly broad,” Judge Kathaleen St. J. McCormick wrote in a letter.

“That said, some additional data from Plaintiff seems warranted,” she wrote.

She ordered Twitter to reveal the 9,000 accounts it reviewed when making a bot-and-spam estimation in connection with a late 2021 audit, which was raised at the hearing Wednesday.

Elon Musk attorneys raise Twitter whistleblower complaint in court

She also said Twitter must produce additional data “reflecting discussion of any other key metric identified by Defendants … regardless of whether those documents expressly address” Twitter’s count of monetizable daily active users.

Musk’s attorney lauded the result in a statement.

“We look forward to reviewing the data Twitter has been hiding for many months,” attorney Alex Spiro said.

Musk’s attorneys submitted a letter Thursday in which they acknowledge submitting the complaint into evidence.

“The complaint was filed on July 6, 2022, but was first made public earlier this week when it was published by the Washington Post,” it said.

Cat Zakrzewski contributed to this report.