WILMINGTON — Elon Musk’s demands for Twitter Inc user details were rejected as “absurdly broad” by a judge on Thursday, although the billionaire will get some data as he pursues his bid to end his $44 billion acquisition of the company.
Chancellor Kathaleen McCormick of Delaware’s Court of Chancery said many of Musk’s data demands were “absurdly broad,” amounting to trillions of data points that “no one in their right mind has ever tried to undertake such an effort.”
The judge said Musk, chief executive of Tesla Inc, has had data and documents needed to pursue his case, much of which was provided before he said on July 8 he was terminating the deal in part because Twitter was withholding information.
“My overall impression is that plaintiff has agreed to produce a tremendous amount of information to defendants, and that the information plaintiff has agreed to produce is sufficiently broad to satisfy most of plaintiff’s obligations,” wrote Chancellor Kathaleen McCormick of Delaware’s Court of Chancery.
Twitter was ordered to turn over data from 9,000 accounts sampled in a fourth-quarter audit to estimate the number of spam or bot users on the social media platform.
Twitter had said that data no longer existed and it would be burdensome to recreate it, although McCormick gave the company two weeks to produce it.
“We look forward to reviewing the data Twitter has been hiding for many months,” said Musk’s attorney, Alex Spiro, in an emailed statement.
Twitter declined to comment.
Musk, the world’s richest person, has said he wants to test that audit’s accuracy because he believes the company fraudulently misrepresented that only 5% of its accounts were spam. He wants McCormick to rule he can walk away from the deal.
Twitter wants McCormick to order Musk to close the deal at the agreed price of $54.20 per share. The shares briefly rose about 1% after the ruling and ended up 0.6% at $41.05.
A five-day trial has been scheduled for Oct. 17.
Twitter said at a Wednesday court hearing that Musk’s focus on spam was “legally irrelevant” because the company has described the spam count in regulatory filings as an estimate, not a representation. It also said the real level of spam could be higher.
(Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Richard Chang)