Musings and missteps : Musk moments on Twitter

4. Elon musk
(File photo: AFP)
SAN FRANCISCO, United States — Elon Musk has gone from being a colorful, controversial Twitter star to a major stakeholder with the purchase of some 73.5 million shares of the platform disclosed on Monday.اضافة اعلان

The serial entrepreneur behind electric car star Tesla owns more than 9 percent of outstanding shares in the social network he has often criticized — and now has the potential to change.

This is a look back at attention-grabbing Musk moments on Twitter, where he has more than 80 million followers.

The real Musk

Musk made his official Twitter debut on June 4, 2010, evidently to thwart others from tweeting in his name.

“Please ignore prior tweets, as that was someone pretending to be me,” he wrote.

“This is actually me.”

His account bears a blue check mark to indicate his identity has been verified. Musk follows just 112 people, according to his profile.

Prior to 2017, Musk’s annual Twitter use was relatively low, according to website Musk fired off more than 1,000 for the first time that year and the number climbed, topping 3,000 in 2020 and 2021, the tracker indicated.

Most of his tweets have been about Tesla and his private space exploration enterprise SpaceX, with slivers devoted to topics such as politics, cryptocurrency and the environment, according to Visual Capitalist.

Unsworth gaffe

In July of 2018, Musk used Twitter to insult British caver Vernon Unsworth, who was part of a dramatic effort to rescue boys trapped in a flooded cave in Thailand.

Musk had sent a self-designed submarine that Unsworth had mocked as a publicity stunt not useful in the effort.

Musk’s tweet was deleted, but Unsworth filed a defamation lawsuit that ended with a jury ruling in favor of Musk in Los Angeles at the end of 2019.

US regulators

Musk found himself in the crosshairs of regulators at the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in August of 2018 after he tweeted he might take Tesla private.

“Am considering taking Tesla private at $420,” Musk said in the tweet.

“Funding secured.”

The market reacted to Musk’s surprise comment, which he never followed through on or provided proof to support.

A settlement with US regulators, who accused Musk of misleading investors, resulted in him stepping down as chairman of the Tesla board and paying a $20 million fine.

Musk was also required to have tweets directly related to Tesla’s business be pre-approved by legal counsel at the car maker.

His clashes with US regulators include him tweeting that SEC actually stands for “Shortseller Enrichment Commission,” inferring they were on the side of those betting against Tesla.

Offbeat products Musk has sold include red “short shorts” to mark Tesla shares climbing to the chagrin of those who tried to make money from the stock going down.

Tax time

In November of 2021, Musk used Twitter to poll his followers regarding whether to sell 10 percent of his Tesla shares due to controversy about whether if unrealized gains are a way to dodge taxes.

He vowed to abide by the outcome of the vote, which was in favor of selling the shares.

The SEC is investigating whether Musk told his brother, Kimbal, about the plan ahead of time to allow him to make favorable moves with Tesla shares, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Challenge to Putin

Musk challenged Russian President Vladimir Putin to “single combat” in a tweet fired off on March 14, 2022.

The winner would get Ukraine, which Russia has invaded.

The head of the Chechen Republic, Putin-supporter Ramzan Kadyrov, responded that Musk would be fighting out of his weight class against a manly opponent.

Musk doubled down during an ensuing exchange, even temporarily changing his displayed first name to “Elona” to shrug off Kadyrov’s comments.

Free speech

Musk recently posted the results of a poll asking whether his Twitter followers think the one-to-many messaging platform “rigorously adheres” to the principle that free speech is essential to a functioning democracy.

The more than 2 million votes cast were more than double the number of Musk’s followers, with the majority saying “no.”

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