Statewide NewsTexas Attorney General to Probe Twitter as Elon Musk Questions Bot Statistics

As Elon Musk threatens to walk away from his purchase of Twitter, Attorney General Ken Paxton launched an investigation on the reported number of bots on the platform.
June 6, 2022
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced on Monday that he issued a Civil Investigative Demand (CID) to investigate Twitter’s report that less than 5 percent of the platform’s users are automated “bots” rather than human users.

A press release from the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) claims that bots could in fact account for more than 20 percent of users on Twitter.

“Texans rely on Twitter’s public statements that nearly all its users are real people. It matters not only for regular Twitter users, but also Texas businesses and advertisers who use Twitter for their livelihoods,” said Paxton in the press release. “If Twitter is misrepresenting how many accounts are fake to drive up their revenue, I have a duty to protect Texans.”

The CID demanded the company turn over information on the number of active users on the platform and documents related to the company’s methodology on calculating the number of bots, giving Twitter a due date of June 27.

Paxton’s demand to the social media giant comes the same day a letter was sent to Twitter on behalf of Elon Musk, who is threatening to back out of the deal to purchase the company.

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Since Twitter announced in late April that the company had agreed to Musk’s $44 billion offer to purchase the platform, Musk has increasingly expressed concern about the number of bots on the site.

Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal stated in mid-May that the company does not believe the estimation of bots on the site “can be performed externally, given the critical need to use both public and private information.”

In the letter to Twitter on Monday, Musk’s attorney said, “Twitter has, in fact, refused to provide the information that Mr. Musk has repeatedly requested since May 9, 2022 to facilitate his evaluation of spam and fake accounts on the company’s platform.”

“Twitter’s latest offer to simply provide additional details regarding the company’s own testing methodologies, whether through written materials or verbal explanations, is tantamount to refusing Mr. Musk’s data requests,” he added. 

The OAG investigation seeks to determine if Twitter’s claim that bots account for less than 5 percent of users is “false, misleading, or deceptive” and violates the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.


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Daniel Friend

Daniel Friend is the Marketing and Media Manager for The Texan. After graduating with a double-major in Political Science and Humanities, he wrote for The Texan as a reporter through June 2022. In his spare time, you're likely to find him working on The Testimony of Calvin Lewis, an Abolition of Man-inspired novel and theatrical podcast.

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