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Twitter takes Elon Musk to court, accusing him of bad faith and hypocrisy

Twitter's lawsuit sets the social media company and the world's richest man up for a lengthy, expensive and high-stakes battle.
Soumyabrata Roy/NurPhoto via Getty Images; Patrick Pleul/picture alliance via Getty Images
Twitter's lawsuit sets the social media company and the world's richest man up for a lengthy, expensive and high-stakes battle.

Twitter has sued Elon Musk to compel him to buy the social media company for $44 billion – a deal the world's richest person said last week he was calling off.

The lawsuit, filed in Delaware's Court of Chancery on Tuesday, accuses Musk of hypocrisy and bad faith in his dealings with Twitter. It sets Twitter and Musk up for a lengthy, expensive and high-stakes battle in which a once-reluctant seller will try to force the hand of a now unwilling buyer.

"Musk refuses to honor his obligations to Twitter and its stockholders because the deal he signed no longer serves his personal interests," the complaint says. "Musk apparently believes that he — unlike every other party subject to Delaware contract law — is free to change his mind, trash the company, disrupt its operations, destroy stockholder value, and walk away."

Musk and his representatives didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Tesla and SpaceX CEO struck an agreement to buy Twitter for $54.20 a share in late April. He vowed to make the platform a bastion of unfettered free speech and clean up the long-running issue of spam and automated bots.

But since then, the mercurial billionaire has launched a fight with the company over the prevalence of fake accounts, which he claims, without offering evidence, is higher than Twitter lets on. He's also aimed a near-constant stream of criticism at the company, including targeting executives and complaining about its content moderation decisions and features.

Over the same period, stock markets have fallen, making the price Musk agreed to pay for Twitter look more expensive even as Tesla shares, his main source of wealth, have dropped.

On Friday, Musk notified Twitter he was terminating the deal. He accused the company of misrepresenting the percentage of fake accounts and of failing to provide him with information to verify its estimates. These, he said, were grounds for abandoning the purchase.

Twitter says it's Musk who has violated the deal. "These claims are pretext and lack any merit," the complaint says.
Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Shannon Bond is a business correspondent at NPR, covering technology and how Silicon Valley's biggest companies are transforming how we live, work and communicate.
Bobby Allyn is a business reporter at NPR based in San Francisco. He covers technology and how Silicon Valley's largest companies are transforming how we live and reshaping society.