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Elon Musk sends a subpoena to a Twitter leaker to find out about spam

A court filing from Monday says that Elon Musk has sent a subpoena to a Twitter whistleblower, asking for documents and communications about the company's spam and alleged security flaws. The billionaire is fighting to get out of a $44 billion deal to buy Twitter.

Musk asked Peiter Zatko, who was a whistleblower, mostly about how Twitter counts spam accounts. Musk has said that he is leaving the deal for the company because Twitter lied to him and regulators about the real number of spam or bot accounts on the microblogging platform.

But Musk also asked for documents and communications about what he said were attempts to hide security flaws and "any illegal activity" by Twitter.

A Twitter representative didn't want to say anything.

Zatko is a well-known hacker who goes by the name "Mudge." Earlier this year, he quit his job as head of Twitter's security. In his whistleblower complaint, which was made public last week, he said that the company lied when it said it had a good security plan.

Elon Musk
Elon Musk has said he is walking away from the deal for the company because Twitter misled him and regulators about the true number of spam or bot accounts.

Ann Lipton, a professor at Tulane University Law School, says that the information Musk gets from Zatko could help him bring new fraud claims against Twitter in his ongoing legal battle with the company.

She said, though, that it wasn't clear if the judge in the Twitter case would let Musk bring up those claims, since the case was on a tight schedule and Musk had waived his right to do due diligence before signing the deal contract.

At a court hearing last week, a Twitter lawyer said that Musk's focus on spam as a way to get out of his deal to buy the company was "legally irrelevant" because Twitter has always said that its spam counts were just estimates and not legally binding promises.

Both sides have filed lawsuits against each other, and on Oct. 17 they will go to court for a five-day trial. Musk wants out of the deal, so Twitter is asking Chancellor Kathaleen McCormick of the Delaware Court of Chancery to force him to buy the company for the agreed-upon $54.20 per share.

Monday in New York, Twitter's stock closed down 1% at $40.04.

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