In response to a Twitter complaint that includes counterclaims against the company, Musk’s team is trying to deny the company’s allegations that the Tesla CEO is wrongfully trying to back out of the deal. His team repeats accusations that Twitter misstated the number of fake and spammy bot accounts on its platform, a key charge Musk blames to justify terminating the acquisition. after initially citing a desire to “beat the bins” as a reason for buying the company.
Based on that analysis, Musk says spambots accounted for 33% of visible accounts on the platform and about 10% of Twitter’s monetized daily active users, or mDAUs, in the first week of July. (Twitter, for its part, consistently reports that spam and fake bot accounts account for less than 5% of its mDAU.)
In its response, Twitter disagreed with Musk’s analysis of spambots, saying that the data it uses “reflects a large number of Twitter accounts that are not included in mDAU” and that the Botometer tool it uses relies on a different process than the company’s to determine whether an account can to be a robot. He added that Botometer “created Musk himself as a robot earlier this year.”
Back and forth between Twitter and Musk offers an overview of the arguments each side will make when the case goes to court, assuming they don’t agree to the settlement in the first place. The five-day trial is set to begin on October 17, following Twitter’s request to speed up the trial.
In addition to doubling down on concerns about bot accounts, Musk’s responses also criticized Twitter’s use of daily active users for monetization. This metric is publicly reported by Twitter to advertisers and shareholders to reflect its growth.
Musk says his estimates show that only a small percentage of users on Twitter believe that mDAU actually generates meaningful revenue for the company through viewing and engaging with ads, arguing that the measure is actually not a good indicator of future revenue growth potential and long-term . performance as shown by Twitter’s public files.
“Twitter also does not disclose the methodology it uses to determine its mDAU count or how it excludes unused accounts from that metric,” Musk’s response stated. “This makes it extremely difficult for any third party to fully reproduce Twitter’s mDAU calculations.”
Musk’s response said Twitter management has an incentive to report “high mDAU numbers to drive investor interest” and because its executive pay structure is based in part on mDAUs.
In their response, Musk’s team explains that the billionaire is concerned about the problem of spam bots because “converting non-revenue users to more active users … is not an easy task.” Musk’s team adds, “A company focused on engaging these active users would invest significant resources in improving Twitter to increase engagement, such as effectively targeting spam or false accounts.”
Twitter said in its response to Musk’s objections that its mDAU number was never an indication of how many users are generating meaningful revenue from interacting with the ads, but rather the number of actual users that could be monetized by serving ads. She also noted that Musk’s claims related to mDAU were not included in his original termination statement and “represent a newly invented litigation position.”
The company also continues to maintain that the bot issue is not and never was related to the completion of the acquisition. “Musk received tons of information from Twitter for months and couldn’t come up with a good excuse to back out of the deal,” Twitter said in a response.
In a letter to Twitter employees that was included in Friday’s ruling, Twitter’s general counsel, Sean Edgett, said that while Twitter had the opportunity to request corrections to Musk’s response, it chose not to. (Twitter previously sent a letter to the judge overseeing the case, asking it to ensure that Musk’s team doesn’t file a public response early, so it has enough time to review it for potential redactions.)
“We have chosen not to redact any information — we fully support our SEC filings, the methodologies we use to calculate mDAUs, and our statements about the percentage of spam accounts on our platform,” Edgett said in the letter.