Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s early Friday morning tweet proclaiming that his $44 billion bid to buy Twitter is on hold may violate laws meant to protect public markets from manipulation. Twitter shares began sliding following the tweet, broadening a wider than usual margin over the past two weeks between the market price and Musk's offer price.

The slide could give regulators and shareholders more reasons to go after Musk. Musk has a long history of tweeting about corporate strategy, most notably alerting the public via Twitter in August 2018 that he had funding to take Tesla private at $420 share. He tweeted, “Still committed to acquisition”

Experts say Musk's latest tweet could invite more legal scrutiny. That's partly because information relevant for shareholders must be filed to the SEC. Musk's tweet arguably caused market moves in both Tesla and Twitter stock in a way that could benefit the Tesla CEO. “Twitter is going to, and already is, dropping like a rock,” John Livingstone said.

Musk has been accused of manipulating the stock market in the past. If he abandons the Twitter deal, it all but ensures that Tesla shares won’t be deployed as collateral to acquire the social media company, Livingstone says. “This is definitely moving the market in a manipulative way,” he says.
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