Twitter to share data at heart of Elon Musk deal dispute: Reports

The news comes just days after the Tesla chief threatened to back out of his deal to purchase Twitter. PHOTO: REUTERS

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP, NYTIMES) - Twitter will yield to billionaire Elon Musk's demand for internal data central to a stand-off over his troubled multibillion-dollar bid to buy the platform, United States media reported on Wednesday (June 8).

The news comes just days after the Tesla chief threatened to back out of his deal to purchase Twitter, accusing it of failing to provide data on fake accounts.

The Washington Post, New York Times and website Axios cited unnamed sources familiar with the negotiations as saying that Twitter's board decided to let Mr Musk access its full "fire hose" of internal data associated with the hundreds of millions of tweets posted daily at the service.

"This would end the major stand-off between Musk and the board on this hot-button issue which has paused the deal," Wedbush analyst Dan Ives said in a tweet.

Twitter chief executive Parag Agrawal has said that fewer than 5 per cent of accounts active on any given day at Twitter are bots, but that analysis cannot be replicated externally due to the need to keep user data private.

One of Twitter's concerns with sharing information has been Mr Musk's prior statements, both publicly and to the company, that he was considering starting a rival social media service. Typically, such matters are addressed by limiting who would have access to such information.

Mr Musk said in his letter this week that he will ensure that anyone reviewing confidential data provided by Twitter will be bound by a non-disclosure agreement. He has also said he would not retain or share sensitive information about Twitter if the deal fell apart.

Once Mr Musk receives access to Twitter's stream of tweets, he is likely to need a team of experts to analyse the data, as well as the computing capacity to process and store the enormous volume of information, company insiders said.

About two dozen companies already pay to access the massive trove of internal Twitter data, which includes records of tweets along with information about accounts and devices used to fire them off, according to the Post.

Twitter declined to comment on the reports but has defended its responsiveness to Mr Musk's requests, and vowed to complete the deal on the original terms.

The mercurial Mr Musk agreed to buy Twitter in a US$44 billion (S$60.6 billion) deal in late April.

Twitter's top legal officer has told employees that a special shareholder vote on whether to approve the buyout deal could be held in late July or early August, according to Bloomberg.

Mr Musk began making significant noise about fake accounts in mid-May, saying on Twitter that he could walk away from the transaction if his concerns were not addressed.

Some observers have seen Mr Musk's questioning of Twitter bots as a means to end the takeover process, or to pressure Twitter into lowering the price.

The potential for Mr Musk to take Twitter private has stoked protest from critics who warn that his stewardship will embolden hate groups and disinformation campaigns.

US securities regulators have also pressed Mr Musk for an explanation of an apparent delay in reporting his Twitter stock buys.

Twitter shares finished the official trading day slightly above US$40, significantly lower than the US$54.20 that Mr Musk agreed to pay when he inked the purchase deal.

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