Twitter v. Elon brings us a meme-driven lawsuit for the books

When Elon Musk announced his intention to end his $44 billion bid for Twitter, the social media company was not quick to give up. Twitter today sued the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla for refusing to honor its contractual obligation to buy the platform. The company’s lawyers claim Musk’s concerns about Twitter’s bot numbers are unfounded.

If you agree to buy a slow-growing social media platform for more than it’s worth, there are no redemptions unless the company has seriously misrepresented itself. Though Twitter handed over its “fire hose” of internal data, Musk claimed the wealth of information was insufficient. So he expanded his ongoing public tantrum over Twitter bots, culminating in his declaration that the deal fell through.

As Twitter wrote in its lawsuit against the unpredictable billionaire: “Musk appears to believe that unlike any other party subject to Delaware contract law, he is free to change his mind, ruin the company, disrupt its operations, destroying stock value and walking away.” In response to the lawsuit, Musk tweeted, “Oh the irony lol.”

Anyone with a Twitter account (even the bots!) saw it was Musk tweeting through them. Based on the memes he’s posted, it wasn’t at all shocking that he got cold feet over his $44 billion impulse buy — especially given the stock market downturn.

Twitter’s attorneys agreed: “In his press release announcing the deal on April 25, 2022, Musk raised a fanfare to ‘beat the spam bots.’ But as the market declined and the fixed-price deal became less appealing, Musk changed his narrative, suddenly demanding “confirmation” that spam wasn’t a serious problem on the Twitter platform and claiming that he urgently needed “due care” that he expressly renounced.”

How do you prove that an extremely wealthy online troll is trying to dupe you? They show the receipts. And the receipts are memes in this case.

The Twitter lawsuit against Musk contains more images than your usual lawsuit. In the 62-page document, the plaintiff shares multiple images of Musk’s tweets (mainly memes about the acquisition) to prove he acted in bad faith. Among them, of course Poop Emoji that Musk tweeted Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal when he tried to answer the mogul’s spam requests.

Elon Musk responds to Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal with a poop emoji on Twitter

Elon Musk responds to Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal with a poop emoji on Twitter

As part of the agreement between Musk and Twitter, Musk violates when he denigrates the platform. According to Twitter, this poop emoji actually counts as a disparagement, but the platform’s lawyers have pulled several more tweets to make their case. In two other cases, Musk flagged the SEC’s Twitter account, asking them to investigate Twitter’s financial disclosures, which claim that more than 95% of monetizable daily active users are humans. According to the lawsuit, “Musk’s conduct merely confirms that he intends to escape from the binding contract he voluntarily signed, and in so doing harm Twitter.”

An image from Twitter's lawsuit against Elon Musk shows him trying to escape the contract

An image from Twitter’s lawsuit against Elon Musk shows him trying to escape the contract

Photo credit: Twitter

An image from Twitter's lawsuit against Elon Musk shows him trying to escape the contract

An image from Twitter’s lawsuit against Elon Musk shows him trying to escape the contract

Twitter’s lawyers also included a meme Musk posted just yesterday that shows the billionaire laughing alongside text mocking the platform: “They said I couldn’t buy Twitter. Then they would not reveal any bot information. Now they want to force me to buy Twitter in court. Now they have to disclose bot information in court.”

He then tweeted a meme of Chuck Norris playing chess, declaring, “Chuckmate.”

Elon Musk is taking part in a Twitter lawsuit

Elon Musk is taking part in a Twitter lawsuit

Elon Musk is taking part in a Twitter lawsuit

Does Elon Musk understand that Chuck Norris memes weren’t funny anymore before Tesla made his first car? Maybe he’s too busy trying to single-handedly increase the US birth rate to keep up with pop culture. Regardless, Twitter used these memes to argue that Musk viewed this highly impactful acquisition as an “elaborate joke.”

This is far from the first time we’ve seen memes in court – in 2013, the makers of the Keyboard Cat and Nyan Cat memes reached a settlement after suing Warner Brothers for unauthorized use of their copyrights in a video game. This incident alone was almost 10 years ago. Now even your tea-spilling group chats can get subpoenaed and featured prominently in a New York Times article.

It’s not even the first time Musk has gotten into serious legal trouble for his bad jokes.

In 2018, Musk tweeted that he was considering it Take Tesla private for $420 a share and already had it secured financing. Of course, he was only making a superficial weed joke, so the SEC charged Musk with fraud for “false and misleading” tweets. As a result, Musk resigned as Tesla’s chief executive officer, the company paid a $20 million fine, and after reaching a settlement with the SEC, he must now have tweets about Tesla from lawyers-turned-“Twitter-sitters” proofread.

However, this is the first time that memes have played a role in determining the fate of a massive corporate takeover. We hope the judges in Delaware Court of Chancery have fun.

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