Faculty Journal Articles and Book Chapters

ORCID (Links to author’s additional scholarship at ORCID.org)

Carliss Chatman: https://orcid.org/0009-0008-2730-8976

Carla L. Reyes: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2448-8309


In 2022, Elon Musk publicly announced that he would purchase Twitter after acquiring a five percent stake in the company. His failure to report this acquisition—and the company’s failure to notice—allowed Musk to continue purchasing stock at a deflated price, costing the company more than $156 million. After the signing of a merger agreement, the details of the transaction caused wild fluctuations in Tesla’s stock price. Musk’s complaints about the management of Twitter and the existence of bots on the platform led Twitter’s stock to also drop in value, as did Musk’s attempts to withdraw from the transaction. Even after the deal closed, many commentators noted their concern that the shareholders of two corporations saw the value of their investments impacted by the whims of one billionaire. But is that the whole story?

At some point in the Musk-Twitter saga, Musk claimed that the number of bots on the Twitter platform devalued the company sufficiently that he should be let out of the transaction altogether. At the time, most observers did not take Musk’s complaints about bots seriously. But what if, instead of just being a silly excuse, Musk’s complaints about bots on Twitter were a tell? What if, they were a hint about a deeper business strategy with a potential to impact capital markets in as yet unanticipated ways? This Article examines the connections between Musk’s many business ventures and argues that Musk’s emphasis on bots on Twitter points toward the one, nearly stealth connecting factor in his businesses: data collection and monetization. By uncovering Musk’s data empire, the Article also reveals key data blind spots in the federal laws meant to govern capital markets and argues that state law offers a better avenue for reigning in the negative externalities of data-driven mergers—mergers and acquisitions undertaken primarily to gain access to the data and data exhaust produced by the target company.

Publication Title

Stetson Law Review

Document Type



Elon Musk, Twitter, Twitterbots, Mergers and acquisitions, Stock fluctuations, Shareholders, Capital markets, Data-driven mergers, Corporate governance



Digital Object Identifier (DOI)



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