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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said on Monday he was investigating Twitter over its reports of the number of accounts on the platform from bots and fake users, saying the company could misrepresent the number to inflate its value and increase its income.
Twitter claimed in its financial regulatory filings that less than 5% of its daily active users are spam accounts. But Paxton alleged on Monday that spam accounts could account for up to 20% of users or more.
“Robot accounts can not only reduce the quality of users’ experience on the platform, but can also inflate the value of the company and the costs of doing business with it, thereby directly harming consumers and consumers. Texas businesses,” Paxton said.
False statements by fake users could be considered “false, misleading, or deceptive” under Texas deceptive marketing practices law, he said. Paxton sent Twitter a request for a civil investigation, forcing the social media company to hand over documents related to how it calculates and manages its user data.
Twitter could not immediately be reached for comment on the investigation.
The investigation comes as Tesla CEO Elon Musk also raises questions about the number of fake accounts on Twitter. Musk, who is negotiating to buy the social media company, threatened to pull out of the deal saying Twitter had failed to provide data it requested on spam accounts.
“This is a clear breach of Twitter’s obligations under the merger agreement and Mr. Musk reserves all resulting rights, including his right not to consummate the transaction and his right to terminate the transaction. ‘merger agreement,” an attorney representing Musk said. written in a letter to Twitter’s Legal, Policy and Trust Officer.
Musk has previously said the acquisition “cannot proceed” until the company provides proof of its spamming measures.
The state’s top lawyer has taken on social media companies before. He sued Meta, the parent conglomerate of Instagram and Facebook, claiming that some of the company’s biometrics practices violated the privacy of Texans. Meta, in response, temporarily disabled face filters.
Paxton sent Twitter a request for a civil investigation in 2021 after it banned former President Donald Trump from its platform following the January 6 attack on the US Capitol. Twitter then filed a lawsuit against Paxton, asking the judge to stop the investigation.
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