Texas AG Investigates Twitter Over Fake Accounts

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said Monday he is investigating whether Twitter misled Texans by underestimating the percentage of fake accounts.

The new probe comes on top of Paxton's existing investigation into whether Twitter violated a state consumer protection law by allegedly misrepresenting its editorial policies.

Paxton on Monday reiterated claims by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who claims that as many as 20% of Twitter accounts are either bots or operated by spammers.

In April, Twitter accepted Musk's offer to purchase the company for $44 billion, but Musk has since threatened to back out of the deal. As recently as Monday, Musk said he may not go through with the purchase unless Twitter provides more information about its estimates of fake accounts.

Twitter has said in Securities and Exchange Commission filings, including the 2021 annual report, that phony accounts represent fewer than 5% of “monetizable daily active usage.”

The company declined to comment on Paxton's investigation.

Paxton, a frequent critic of large technology companies, launched a separate investigation of Twitter in January of 2021, soon after it banned former President Donald Trump from the platform.

As part of that initiative, the Texas law-enforcement official demanded that Twitter (along with Google, Facebook, Amazon Web Services and Apple) provide him with detailed information about their editorial policies.

Twitter sought a court order blocking the investigation, arguing that Paxton is violating the company's First Amendment right by attempting to interfere with its editorial decisions. Courts have so far refused to halt the investigation.

Paxton has also sued Google for allegedly deceiving consumers about the collection and use of their location data, and for allegedly arranging for radio personalities who had not used the Pixel 4 phone to endorse it.

Separately, he has sued Facebook parent Meta over its prior use of facial-recognition technology.

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