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Texas AG Paxton launches investigation into Twitter for potentially misreporting bot numbers

Tesla CEO Elon Musk in his attempt to buy Twitter has brought the issue of how many site users are in fact bots to national attention

Published: June 7, 2022 8:46am

Updated: June 7, 2022 10:01am

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has launched an investigation against Twitter for possibly violating the state's Deceptive Trade Practices Act by falsely reporting information about the fake bot accounts that populate the site.

According to a release Monday from the Paxton's office, bot accounts "inflate followers and reach, and often push deceptive and annoying activity," in addition to potentially inflating "the value of the company and the costs of doing business with it, thus directly harming Texas consumers and businesses."

In the last weeks, Twitter has come under increased scrutiny for claiming in its financial regulatory filings that bots comprise fewer than 5% of all users, amid reports the figure could be as high as 20%.

The issue has primarily been brought to the forefront by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who remains locked in the process of buying the company.

In response to the issue, Paxton filed a Civil Investigative Demand to look into whether Twitter's reporting on bots meets the threshold of being "false, misleading, or deceptive" under the Texas law. 

The attorney general's office will require Twitter to hand over documents pertaining to the methods it uses to assess and calculate its user data and how those figures correspond to the company's advertising business. The company has until roughly the end of the month to comply with Paxton's demand. 

Paxton, a Republican in a reelection year, says that if Twitter is "misrepresenting how many accounts are fake to drive up their revenue, I have a duty to protect Texans.

"It matters not only for regular Twitter users, but also Texas businesses and advertisers who use Twitter for their livelihoods."

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