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Musk, Twitter Tussle in Court

FILE PHOTO: Illustration shows Elon Musk image on smartphone and printed Twitter logos. Taken 4.28.2022
FILE PHOTO: Illustration shows Elon Musk image on smartphone and printed Twitter logos. Taken 4.28.2022

The high stakes court battle between Elon Musk and Twitter kicked off on Tuesday, as the social media firm tries to force the entrepreneur to honor their $44 billion buyout deal.

The first hearing was centering on Twitter's push to set a trial date for as early as September in a case focused on Musk's move to walk away on allegations the platform misled him about its tally of fake accounts.

The hearing is being held in the eastern U.S. state of Delaware.

Musk's legal team has filed papers arguing that September date is far too soon for such a complex matter, and instead proposed mid-February.

Twitter lawyers noted the deal is supposed to close toward the end of October, just six months after Musk launched an unsolicited bid that the company's board first resisted but then supported.

Kathaleen McCormick, the judge overseeing the case, comes with a no-nonsense reputation.

She also reportedly has the distinction of previously ordering a reluctant buyer into completing a corporate merger.

A forced closing of the Twitter deal is a scenario that some analysts consider possible.

"(Wall) Street and legal experts across the board view Twitter as having a 'strong iron fist upper hand,' heading into the Delaware court battle after months of this fiasco and nightmare," analyst Dan Ives wrote last week.

He also noted that less likely options include Musk paying a $1 billion breakup fee and being able to walk away, or winning outright on his fake-account argument.

After pausing the deal in May, Musk's lawyers announced in July he was "terminating" the agreement because of skepticism over Twitter's false or spam accounts tally and allegations the firm was not forthcoming with details.

Tuesday's hearing will be just the first step in what could be a lengthy legal fight that could end in a trial, but also a settlement.

"Musk has shown his willingness to take things all the way to the end in Delaware court," said Adam Badawi, a University of California at Berkeley law professor.

"I think settling is not necessarily his instinct."

He also noted that less likely options include Musk paying a $1 billion breakup fee and being able to walk away, or winning outright on his fake-account argument.

Billions of dollars are at stake, but so is the future of the platform that Musk has said should allow any legal speech, an absolutist position that has sparked fears the network could be used to incite violence.

"Questions have been raised about Twitter's future, and they don't want this to drag on for very long," said Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor.

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Meta Toughens Content Curbs for Teens on Instagram, Facebook

FILE - Woman holds smartphone with Meta logo in front of a displayed Facebook's new rebrand logo Meta in this illustration picture
FILE - Woman holds smartphone with Meta logo in front of a displayed Facebook's new rebrand logo Meta in this illustration picture

WASHINGTON — Meta on Tuesday said it was tightening up content restrictions for teens on Instagram and Facebook as it faces increased scrutiny that its platforms are harmful for young people.

The changes come months after dozens of U.S. states accused Meta of damaging the mental health of children and teens, and misleading users about the safety of its platforms.

In a blog post, the company run by Mark Zuckerberg said it will now "restrict teens from seeing certain types of content across Facebook and Instagram even if it's from friends or people they follow."

This type of content would include content that discusses suicide or self-harm, as well as nudity or mentions of restricted goods, the company added.

Restricted goods on Instagram include tobacco products and weapons as well as alcohol, contraception, cosmetic procedures and weight loss programs, according to its website.

In addition, teens will now be defaulted into the most restricted settings on Instagram and Facebook, a policy that was in place for new users and that now will be expanded to existing users.

This will "make it more difficult for people to come across potentially sensitive content or accounts in places like Search and Explore," the company said.

Meta also said that it will expand its policy of hiding results to searches related to suicide and self harm to include more terms.

Leaked internal research from Meta, including by the Wall Street Journal and whistle-blower Frances Haugen, has shown that the company was long aware of dangers its platforms have on the mental health for young people.

On the platforms, teens are defined as being under eighteen, based on the date of birth they give when signing up.

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