August 9, 2022

Aurich Lawson | Photo by Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Twitter now plans to comply with Elon Musk’s demand for user data that he says is needed to determine whether the company’s spam estimates are accurate, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.

“After a weeks-long impasse, Twitter’s board plans to comply with Elon Musk’s demands for internal data by offering access to its full ‘firehose,’ the massive stream of data comprising more than 500 million tweets posted each day, according to a person familiar with the company’s thinking, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the state of negotiations,” the Post wrote.

Twitter declined comment on the Post report when contacted by Ars today but pointed to its statement from Monday that “Twitter has and will continue to cooperatively share information with Mr. Musk to consummate the transaction in accordance with the terms of the merger agreement.”

Whether Twitter has to give all the user data to Musk is under dispute. The Post report comes two days after Musk’s legal team sent a letter to Twitter claiming the company violated the merger agreement by refusing to provide the data behind its spam estimates.

Providing data could help Twitter complete sale

Twitter giving Musk the requested data could be bad for him if his real goal is getting out of the $44 billion purchase deal. It would undercut Musk’s claim that Twitter violated the merger agreement, and Twitter seems confident that its estimate is accurate.

Twitter could provide the data to Musk “as soon as this week,” the Post wrote. “Currently some two dozen companies pay for access to the trove, which comprises not only a real-time record of tweets but the devices they tweet from, as well as information about the accounts that tweet.”

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Musk’s offer to buy Twitter waived “business due diligence,” but he says Twitter must provide the requested data because of a clause in the merger agreement that says he is entitled to information “for any reasonable business purpose related to the consummation of the transaction.”

Musk’s letter claims he has a “right to terminate the merger agreement” if Twitter doesn’t comply. The letter also said Musk needs a “complete and accurate understanding of the very core of Twitter’s business model—its active user base” in order to obtain financing and prepare for the ownership transition.

“Mr. Musk believes Twitter is transparently refusing to comply with its obligations under the merger agreement, which is causing further suspicion that the company is withholding the requested data due to concern for what Mr. Musk’s own analysis of that data will uncover,” the letter from Musk’s legal team said.