On June 6, 2022, Texas prosecutor Ken Paxton decided to launch an investigation against Twitter, following comments made by Elon Musk. The billionaire claims that the social network is made up of 20% fake accounts (bots and spam). According to the Texas prosecutor, these fake accounts could contribute to “inflate the value of the social network”.
5% fake accounts according to Twitter, 20% according to Musk
In a press release published Monday, June 6, Ken Paxton took up the words of Elon Musk to justify the launch of an investigation against Twitter. According to the boss of Tesla, bots and spam could represent up to 20% of accounts on the social network. However, the platform estimates that these fake accounts do not exceed 5% of all the profiles listed. However, Twitter refuses to officially transmit this information to Elon Musk. The billionaire even accuses the platform of “withholding information” and threatens to end the negotiations.
Elon Musk could question the takeover of Twitter
Under the Deceptive Trade Practices Act put in place by the State of Texas, which protects Internet users from misleading advertisements, Attorney General Paxton intends to attack Twitter. The alignment of interests between Musk and Paxton timely… Strangely, Tesla has also just opened a Gigafactory in Texas and moved its headquarters to Austin (the capital of Texas). The state has also offered tax breaks to companies building facilities in the area. While that may not mean anything, this isn’t the first time Ken Paxton has been accused of abuse of power.
Elon Musk and Ken Paxton: two allies
Now Twitter has no choice. The platform must provide official documents to detail the number of active users of the company since 2017 and the volume of fake accounts over this same period. The social network will also have to justify the methods used to calculate the ratio of fake accounts. Twitter must also provide more details on its advertising model and in particular on income generated in Texas. Ken Paxton will leave nothing to chance and that will not displease Musk.
The Texas Attorney General is well known for his fight against the web giants. Member of the Tea Party, a movement that is characterized by its traditionalist positions in the moral and religious field, it has already attacked Google (for its advertising activities) as well as Meta (about facial recognition). It’s not yet clear whether Paxton intends to sue Twitter as well. Elon Musk has clearly found an ally in the person of Ken Paxton.
Today, the two men probably have the same interests: strengthen freedom of expression on Twitter for “reverse alleged censorship on the platform”.