Texas AG launches investigation against Twitter for allegedly misreporting fake bot accounts

Twitter has until June 27 to respond to AG Paxton's demand

First on Fox: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Monday launched an investigation against Twitter, claiming that the company has underreported its fake bot accounts and those numbers have negatively impacted consumers and businesses. 

Paxton’s office said "bots," or spam accounts, "inflate followers and reach, and often push deceptive and annoying activity." 

Texas AG Ken Paxton

FILE: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton leaves the U.S. Supreme Court following arguments over a challenge to a Texas law that bans abortion after six weeks in Washington, U.S., November 1, 2021. (REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein / Reuters Photos)

"A large number of bot accounts not only reduces 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 consumers and businesses – specifically, Texas consumers and businesses," Paxton’s office said in a statement shared with FOX Business. 

The issue of Twitter bots has come to the fore in recent days after Tesla CEO Elon Musk accused the social media giant of "actively resisting and thwarting" his information rights by failing to provide calculations supporting the social media platform’s internal estimate on spam and fake accounts. 


In April, Twitter accepted Musk’s $44 billion offer to acquire and take it private at $54.20 per share. But Musk has since said the deal is temporarily on hold pending details supporting Twitter’s calculations that spam and fake accounts make up less than 5% of users. 

Last month, Musk said his team would conduct its own random sampling to calculate the number of spam and fake accounts. Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal said an external review to determine the percentage would be difficult given the "critical need to use both public and private information." 

Twitter app

FILE: The Twitter icon is displayed on a mobile phone in Philadelphia on April 26, 2017.  (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File / AP Newsroom)

Paxton said the difference between Twitter’s claims that less than 5% of users are bots versus his projections of possibly 20%, "would dramatically affect the cost of Texas consumers and businesses transacting with Twitter." 


Paxton’s office has issued a Civil Investigative Demand (CID) to investigate whether Twitter’s reporting on real versus fake users is "false, misleading, or deceptive" under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Per the demand, Twitter would be compelled to turn over documents on how it calculates and manages user data and how that information relates to advertising. 

Twitter sign

FILE: A sign is pictured outside the Twitter headquarters in San Francisco, Monday, April 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn / AP Newsroom)

"Texans rely on Twitter’s public statements that nearly all its users are real people. It matters not only for regular Twitter users, but also Texas businesses and advertisers who use Twitter for their livelihoods," said Attorney General Paxton. "If Twitter is misrepresenting how many accounts are fake to drive up their revenue, I have a duty to protect Texans."

Twitter has until June 27 to respond to Paxton’s Civil Investigative Demand.  


FOX Business has reached out to Twitter for comment on Paxton’s investigation but did not hear back before publication time. 

FOX Business Lucas Manfredi contributed to this report.