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Elon Musk’s latest stunt: calling on the SEC to investigate Twitter’s user numbers

How long will this go on?

Illustration by Kristen Radtke / The Verge; Getty Images

So does Elon Musk want to buy Twitter or not? This morning, the company’s prospective new owner insisted (in a tweet, of course) that the $44 billion deal he’d agreed to “cannot move forward” until he sees the proof he’s looking for about its active user numbers.

With needling current Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal and texting former CEO Jack Dorsey having failed to hit the spot, Musk — seemingly jokingly — pulled in another recurring character from his 24/7 revolving circus by tweeting to the US Securities and Exchange Commission, asking them to investigate.

Image: Twitter

In case you’ve forgotten, the folks at the SEC are the “bastards” that Musk has previously accused of infringing upon his rights to free speech, although that’s not the only thing he’s called them in the past.

His quarrel with them has focused on their attempts to enforce a consent decree he agreed to in 2018 over the “funding secured” tweets about taking Tesla private. Of course, you could add to that the investigations into Musk and his brother over possible insider trading and even his failure to make a timely disclosure about how much Twitter stock he’d acquired before making a bid for the company.

Joke or not, Twitter has had troubles with accurate metrics and recently admitted it had been overcounting daily users for years. Twitter’s CEO stands by the estimates about the amount of bot activity included in its daily active user (DAU) metric; however, now that puts Parag Agrawal in a standoff that Musk might be using to lower his price for the company or exit the deal altogether.