Texas’ Long Indicted Attorney General Launches Investigation Into Whether Or Not He’s The Biggest Elon Musk Sycophant Yet

from the answer-points-to-yes dept

Okay, so, it was just a few weeks ago that a teenager went into an elementary school and killed 21 people, including 19 children. You might think there are important things about that which should draw the attention of the state’s top lawyer. Attorney General Ken Paxton is a busy man. He’s running for a third term in the job, while still waiting for the supposed trial on his indictment that happened seven years ago. He also wasted a bunch of time on a bunch of bogus “stop the steal” lawsuits, and led the charge on the ridiculous attempt to force DirecTV to platform nonsense peddler OAN. Oh, and of course, his office is also leading the charge to enforce his obviously unconstitutional social media content moderation bill.

But, even with all that going on, he’s apparently got enough time to try to kiss up to Elon Musk, who proudly moved Tesla’s headquarters to Texas a few years back, and has since cultivated closer and closer ties to the Republican party.

So, on Monday, just hours after Musk filed a letter with the SEC setting up his pretext for backing out of the Twitter deal, Paxton announced that his office was launching an investigation into spam bots on Twitter. I only wish I were joking. But this is an actual thing that an actual elected official is wasting taxpayer money on.

Today Attorney General Ken Paxton launched an investigation against Twitter for potentially false reporting over its fake bot accounts in violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.  

On Twitter, “bots” are automated, non-human accounts that can do virtually the same things as real people: send tweets, follow other users, and like and retweet others’ posts. Spam accounts like these inflate followers and reach, and often push deceptive and annoying activity. Bot accounts can not only reduce the quality of users’ experience on the platform but may also inflate the value of the company and the costs of doing business with it, thus directly harming Texas consumers and businesses.  

Twitter has received intense scrutiny in recent weeks over claiming in its financial regulatory filings that fewer than 5% of all users are bots, when they may in fact comprise as much as 20% or more. The difference could dramatically affect the cost to Texas consumers and businesses who transact with Twitter.  

So, a few things about all this. First, lol, wut? This is not something an Attorney General is supposed to be investigating. This is an even more thinly veiled suck up to Musk than Musk’s thinly veiled pretext for bailing on the Twitter deal. Second, even here, Paxton misstates the issue. The single study that people have been pointing to suggesting 20% spam is studying something different than Twitter’s SEC filings which talk about less than 5% of its daily monetizable daily active users are false or spam accounts. That could still mean that over 20% of the users on the site are spam. The report is just about monetizable daily active users. And Twitter has explained its methodology for this.

To just jump in and compare the 5% number to the 20% number is comparing two totally different things.

Also, once again, this is not something a state AG is supposed to be investigating.

This is clearly a political witch hunt by a state AG, something that happens with alarming frequency these days (on both side so political aisle).

Anyway, Paxton sent a Civil Investigative Demand, which is basically a subpoena, to Twitter. I imagine Twitter will seek to quash or otherwise limit it. I am reminded of the time that the MPAA got then Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood to issue a similar CID to “investigate” Google. Google fought it and eventually Hood dropped the whole thing. Chances are this is going nowhere.

Still, this is obvious to basically everyone — whether you support Elon or not — that this is nothing more than a blatant abuse of Ken Paxton’s office and powers in a political manner, to benefit the most wealthy resident in his state in the lead up to his next election. In a just world, the people of Texas would send Paxton packing in November for such a blatant abuse of office. But, in the world we live in today, it’ll probably give him an electoral boost, because instead of trying to help the people of Texas, the people of Texas seem to like it when their Attorney General spends their tax money by vanquishing people he perceives as his political enemies.

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Comments on “Texas’ Long Indicted Attorney General Launches Investigation Into Whether Or Not He’s The Biggest Elon Musk Sycophant Yet”

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James Burkhardt (profile) says:

I suspect that the conflation of ‘accounts’ and ‘users’ and ‘daily active users’ and ‘monetizable daily active users’ that is rampant in Musk fanboys is the core issue with twitter witholding numbers. Namely, what Musk is asking for is numbers about fake/spam accounts, and twitter knowing that his supposed issue is with the SEC disclosure about mDAU, Twitter is providing him data that to establish mDAU estimates, not the number of accounts.

Upstream (profile) says:

What should AG Paxton do?

Okay, so, it was just a few weeks ago that a teenager went into an elementary school and killed 21 people, including 19 children. You might think there are important things about that which should draw the attention of the state’s top lawyer.

And what might those things be? Murder is still illegal, even in Texas, and AG Paxton has already been (as you pointed out) quite busy grandstanding and pandering to his base, which is generally what AGs spend most of their time doing..

I suppose he could launch an investigation into the inaction of the Uvalde cops, but that would really just be more grandstanding, since SCOTUS ruled long ago the police have no legal duty to protect citizens. The investigation would be pointless, and would alienate his base, as well. So that idea is a non-starter.

There is not much else Paxton could do that is legitimately within the AG’s purview, except maybe look into possible monetary compensation for victims and their families.

Anonymous Coward says:

Paxton - another way to spell "stupid"?

This could be Paxton unwanted sucking up to Musk. It could also Paxton sucking up to Musk at his behest. If the first, Paxton is doing something really stupid. If the second, Musk is doing something really stupid. Oh yes, and Paxton is doing something really stupid. Unavoidable conclusion: Paxton is doing something really stupid. Nuff said?

Jeremy Lyman (profile) says:


“proudly moved Tesla’s headquarters to Texas a few years back”

I found articles about Tesla’s official relocation starting on Dec 1, 2021. I know, but it just seems like years with how this timeline is going.

Seems like if this AG really wanted to get on Musk’s good site he’d be using his influence to allow Tesla to actually sell cars in the state where they’re now manufacturing them.

sumgai (profile) says:

The article you quoted is about Tesla’s HEADQUARTERS, not the rest of the company. Nonetheless, TFS was indeed incorrect on this point.

As early as July of 2020, Musk said he’d leave California over that state’s mask mandate. Something, something about “freedom to kill one another”, or some such crap. The Texas manufacturing facilities were built in double-time, and Tesla started making vehicles in that state shortly after the first of 2021.

And you can be sure that Tesla vehicles are plentiful on the roads of Texas. Even as crazy as Musk seems at times, he wouldn’t move to a state where the sale of his product would be unlawful.

sumgai (profile) says:

Re: Re: Headlines

N.A., it’s all in the headlines, let alone the text of your linked article. Musk was “sure” that the L.A. officials were setting the mandate without properly substantiating the necessity of such. IOW, he felt/thought that the government was over-reacting by setting the mandate, not that he thought it was optional, or that everyone must wear a mask at all times. Indeed, when’s the last time you saw him in public with a mask on? It did happen, but only when he was in the presence of those with whom he knew better than to argue.

Jeremy Lyman (profile) says:


Yes, I was quibbling with the assertion that Tesla moved its headquarters to Texas years ago. The Texas factory was built quickly, but the first cars were delivered in April 2022.

Texas law restricts manufacturers from making auto sales directly to customers. So Tesla has to ship cars out to other states to complete orders placed by residents in Texas.

sumgai (profile) says:

Re: Re:

This is the same old chestnut as back when Texas made Southwest Airlines fly to another state and back, they weren’t allowed to fly directly from one Texas city to another Texas city. S.A. eventually got around it by various means, and that’s a story in itself. But Tesla buyers? Don’t worry, they’re not about to let bullshit laws stop them, you can take that to the bank.

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