Musk is not supposed to disparage Twitter while trying to buy it. He's doing it anyway.

Key Points
  • A clause in Elon Musk's $44 billion deal to buy Twitter forbids him from saying negative things about the company and its employees.
  • But Musk has already made a number of tweets directly targeting Twitter employees.
  • It's not clear what would happen if Musk violated the clause. However, should either side back out of the deal, they would have to pay a $1 billion penalty.
Elon Musk may tweet about the Twitter deal but not "disparage the company or any of its representatives," according to a securities filing.
Jakub Porzycki | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Less than 48 hours after Elon Musk and Twitter went public with their $44 billion deal to take the company private, Musk has continued to publicly criticize the platform on social media.

As part of the acquisition deal, Musk is expressly forbidden from saying negative things about Twitter and its employees. However, he appears to have already begun attacking the company again. 

In one message posted Tuesday afternoon, Musk responded to a tweet about Vijaya Gadde, Twitter's chief legal officer:

Musk was referring to a decision to temporarily limit tweets about an October 2020 New York Post article based on allegedly hacked material regarding the purported business dealings of Hunter Biden, the son of then-candidate and now President Joe Biden. Facebook also limited users' ability to read and share that article.

A Tuesday filing laying out details of Musk's $44 billion acquisition of the social media platform states that while Musk "shall be permitted to issue tweets about the merger," his tweets cannot "disparage the company or any of its representatives."

It is not clear what would happen if Musk violated this clause. However, should either side back out of the deal, they would have to pay a $1 billion penalty.

But Musk has already tweeted responses to posts that directly target Twitter employees.

On Tuesday night, Musk responded to a tweet about Jim Baker, another lawyer employed by Twitter. The tweet originated from the account of Mike Cernovich, a far-right agitator, and described a meeting arranged by Baker, then-general counsel for the FBI, and a top Democratic attorney.

Former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo responded directly to a second Musk tweet, accusing him of abuse over the depiction of Gadde.

Costolo also directly called out Musk's behavior:

Musk also tweeted out a chart showing that Twitter was trailing Truth Social, the social media platform backed by Donald Trump, in downloads. It was not immediately clear where Musk sourced the chart he posted.

A review of rankings from the Apple App Store and the Google Play store on Wednesday show that Truth Social is nowhere to be found among the top 200 free and paid apps. However, other sites, including Apptopia, an analytics company, did show Truth Social at No. 1.

Parag Agrawal, Twitter's current CEO, did not directly address Musk's tweets but said he remains proud of Twitter employees "despite the noise."

Twitter shares closed down 2 percent in Wednesday trading.

Musk, who has more than 86 million followers, owns one of the most popular Twitter accounts in the world. He has historically responded to other accounts with many followers, and some with very few. It's a reflection of his approach to the social media platform, laid out in a 2018 internal email from Tesla made public earlier this month which Musk himself retweeted:

Musk did not respond to an emailed request for comment.