Twitter is seeking information from Halo Privacy Inc. including any agreements it may have with Elon Musk, or analyses the Seattle-area company has performed on the issue of Twitter bots and fake accounts. (GeekWire File Photo / Alan Boyle)
Lawyers for Twitter issued a subpoena this week to Halo Privacy Inc. of Lynnwood, Wash., seeking documents and information in the social media company’s lawsuit against Elon Musk over his efforts to end their $44 billion acquisition agreement.
The subpoena and related exhibits, obtained by GeekWire from public filings in King County Superior Court in Seattle, seek a variety of communications and other records from Halo Privacy — focusing largely on the issue of bots, spam, or fake accounts on Twitter, including any related analyses conducted by the Seattle-area company.
Musk is challenging Twitter’s disclosures on the issue of bots and fake accounts as part of his attempt to cancel his agreement to acquire the San Francisco-based company.
Among other information, lawyers for Twitter are seeking documents and information about any agreement, engagement, or arrangement between Halo Privacy and Musk, his advisors, or data scientists.
Halo Privacy, founded in 2015, does not appear to have been publicly linked to Musk or his dispute with Twitter previously. Company representatives have not responded to GeekWire’s requests for comment.
The company’s website says it offers a “premium privacy solution tailored for the C-Suite, Boards of Directors, Family Offices, and Ultra High Net Worth,” with “platinum services and technology for the most discerning and demanding privacy customers.” Its offerings include a Linux-based privacy appliance for secure collaboration and messaging.
“Your Secrets, Kept Secret,” is the company motto given by Halo Privacy CEO Kevin Kelly in his LinkedIn profile.
The filing in Seattle comes amid a flurry of activity in the larger dispute this week, including a whistleblower complaint from former Twitter security leader Peiter Zatko that could play into Musk’s hands; and rulings by Judge Kathaleen McCormick in Delaware largely rejecting Musk’s discovery requests, including some she called “absurdly broad.”
Trial is set for Oct. 17 in Delaware Chancery Court. The subpoena to Halo Privacy in King County Superior Court was issued in conjunction with the Delaware suit.
Portions of the subpoena zero on in specific claims by Musk — seeking any documents, communications or supporting materials in Halo Privacy’s possession related to tweets by the SpaceX and Tesla founder, such as this one.
20% fake/spam accounts, while 4 times what Twitter claims, could be *much* higher.
My offer was based on Twitter’s SEC filings being accurate.
Yesterday, Twitter’s CEO publicly refused to show proof of <5%.
This deal cannot move forward until he does.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 17, 2022
In addition, the subpoena lists six news articles, seeking materials associated with any communication with media outlets, representatives, websites or social media platforms related to these or other articles.
- Do spam bots really comprise under 5% of Twitter users? Elon Musk wants to know – Reuters, May 13
- Musk Says Twitter Deal at Lower Price Is ‘Not Out of the Question’ – Bloomberg, May 16
- Elon Musk Says Twitter Deal Can’t Move Forward Without Clarity on Fake Accounts – Wall Street Journal, May 17
- Exclusive: Musk’s Twitter deal threats put new financing on ice -sources – Reuters, June 7
- Elon Musk Interview in Full – Bloomberg, June 21
- Elon Musk’s Deal to Buy Twitter is in Peril – Washington Post, July 7
The subpoena similarly seeks any information or communication in Halo Privacy’s possession about a May 17 tweet, by Tel Aviv-based tech company Cyabra, telling Musk that it estimated 13.7% of Twitter accounts were fake.
Read the full text of the subpoena and related exhibits here or below.
Twitter vs. Musk – Halo Privacy Subpoena – King County Superior Court by GeekWire on Scribd