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.