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Days after Elon Musk accused Twitter of being in "material breach" of the contract for Musk to acquire the social media company, Twitter's board has agreed to give the billionaire full access to its data.
As soon as this week, Twitter will provide Musk with a "firehose" of data including a real-time record of the more than 500 million tweets sent daily, what devices they come from, and information about the accounts that tweet, the Washington Post reported Wednesday.
The board's acquiescence is a win for Musk, who put his $44 billion deal to buy Twitter on hold and even threatened to back out if Twitter would not hand over information that would let his team calculate the number of fake or spam accounts on its platform.
Defeating "spam bots" is among the Tesla and SpaceX CEO's top priorities for Twitter once he takes the company private. Musk has pledged to "authenticate all real humans" and purge fake accounts from the social media website or "die trying."
On May 13, he said that his deal to buy Twitter could not move forward until he verified Twitter's claim that spam or fake accounts make up fewer than 5% of Twitter users. Musk has estimated the number is closer to 20% — a claim backed by some independent researchers — but he has repeatedly insisted he needs access to Twitter's data to know for sure.
Tech industry insiders have voiced skepticism that Musk will be able to use Twitter's data to find any new information. According to the Washington Post, they think it is far more likely Musk is searching for a way to leverage a lower purchase price for Twitter, since a high percentage of spam accounts would mean the company's estimates for how many users are exposed to advertising are overstated, which could affect revenue.
Analysts have also speculated Musk may be searching for a way to kill the deal — if he could prove that Twitter significantly misrepresented the company's value, he would be able to walk away without paying a $1 billion breakup fee or being liable to face lawsuits.
Twitter leadership until now has been reluctant to share internal data with Musk since he waived his right to examine the company's finances and inner workings in the purchase agreement he signed in April.
On Monday, Musk's legal team sent a letter to Twitter accusing the company of violating its obligation to turn over information on spam accounts that he had been requesting since May 9.
"As Twitter’s prospective owner, Mr. Musk is clearly entitled to the requested data to enable him to prepare for transitioning Twitter’s business to his ownership and to facilitate his transaction financing. To do both, he must have a complete and accurate understanding of the very core of Twitter’s business model—its active user base," Musk's lawyers wrote.
"If Twitter is confident in its publicized spam estimates, Mr. Musk does not understand the company’s reluctance to allow Mr. Musk to independently evaluate those estimates," the letter stated.
In a statement on Monday, Twitter said it "has and will continue to cooperatively share information with Mr. Musk to consummate the transaction in accordance with the terms of the merger agreement."
"We believe this agreement is in the best interest of all shareholders. We intend to close the transaction and enforce the merger agreement at the agreed price and terms.”
Bloomberg reported on Wednesday that Twitter's shareholders will vote to approve Musk's deal in late July or early August, after the Securities and Exchange Commission gives a green light to the agreement.
According to SEC filings, Musk is funding his bid to acquire Twitter with more than $33 billion of his personal wealth, and is seeking additional financing commitments from former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and other shareholders.
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