By Brett Wilkins / Common Dreams
Mega-billionaire Elon Musk, the world’s richest person, on Friday officially moved to pull out of his bid to buy Twitter, claiming he was bailing on the $44 billion deal because the social media giant made “false and misleading claims” during negotiations and was in “material breach of multiple provisions” of the agreement.
“For nearly two months, Mr. Musk has sought the data and information necessary to ‘make an independent assessment of the prevalence of fake or spam accounts on Twitter’s platform,'” Musk’s team explained in a court filing. “Twitter has failed or refused to provide this information.”
Response to the breaking news included rebuke from progressives like Rep. Chuy García (D-Ill.) who tweeted, “Hey Elon Musk, don’t let the door hit you on your way out.”
Musk had secured about $25 billion in debt financing tied to his stock in Tesla, where he is CEO. His withdrawal from the deal sets the stage for a lengthy legal battle with the tech titan.
“Elon Musk lost $70 billion this year. The market tanked, his sexual misconduct cost him billions, and he had to sell 10 million shares in his company to afford Twitter,” political and communications strategist Sawyer Hackett tweeted. “Now Twitter is going to take him to court for reneging on the deal and will take even more.”
Digital rights campaigners, media critics, and even public health experts had warned that the purchase of Twitter by Musk posed a direct threat to democracy and the common good by placing the highly influential social media platform—which is used by hundreds of millions of people worldwide—under the control of one man.
“From the outset, Elon Musk’s attempt to take over Twitter was about advancing his own red-pilled ideological agenda. He was explicit about his intentions, which is why right-wing extremists celebrated the news,” Angelo Carusone, president of the watchdog Media Matters for America, said in a statement. “If Musk was to acquire Twitter and follow through with even a fraction of what he had promised to do, Twitter would become a supercharged engine of radicalization.”
“With the announcement today that Musk is bailing on the deal, this dark future is now one step closer to being prevented,” Carusone added. “Despite what Musk may claim, this deal isn’t ending because of Twitter bots or spam accounts. This deal is collapsing because of Elon Musk’s own erratic behavior, embrace of extremists, and bad business decisions.”
The Verge reports:
Twitter has gone to great lengths to show compliance with Musk’s requests. In early June, the company opened up ‘firehose’ access to its service so that Musk could receive and analyze every tweet as it’s posted. The company has also continuously tried to reassure the public that it has spam and bots under control. On Thursday, it told press that it was blocking over a million spam accounts per day, and in May its CEO wrote a long thread about how Twitter determines how many of its users are bots.
It’s incumbent that Musk prove that Twitter has breached their agreement, as he can’t just pull out the signed agreement because he feels like it. The deal was a potentially lucrative one for Twitter shareholders, offering $54.20 per share, up from the $36.81 it closed at today. There’s also $1 billion on the line as a breakup fee that will be paid by the party at fault.
Reaction by Twitter employees was mixed, with one worker telling NBC News: “I guess it feels like we won. But it feels like the end of the movie, where the characters are bloodied and bedraggled with a Michael Bay explosion behind them. We could see this was coming, but in the meantime, he’s fucking destroyed the company.”