Love him or hate him, you should certainly be following him.
Over the years, Elon Musk has found himself embroiled in no shortage of controversies, both in his business endeavours and within his personal life – we all recall that eyebrows were raised last year after he announced that his youngest child was to be named X Æ A-Xii.
However, a surprising number of Musk’s controversies aren’t leaked through the press or by disgruntled former collaborators but are born of misjudged posts on Musk’s own social media platforms – most famously, through his Twitter account.
Here are just a few of Musk’s most infamous Twitter controversies explained.
“I’m Selling Almost All Physical Possessions”
Back in May 2020, Musk made a pledge that left millions of his followers scratching their heads after he tweeted that he intended to sell almost everything that he owned.
Given that Musk is worth an estimated $165 billion, the idea that he would suddenly seek out a more minimalistic lifestyle seemed fairly far-fetched. However, after following his initial post with a second stating that the tweet had upset his girlfriend, conceptual pop artist Grimes, followers began to consider that he may just have been being serious…
In the months following, it has indeed turned out that this was no joke. Musk has since sold all but one of his homes – a mansion in the Bay Area which he has used to host events over the years – for a combined $137 million. Elon recently confirmed that he now resides in a foldable tiny house in Texas, a property which he rents from his own company, SpaceX.
As to what Musk plans to do with the profits returned via selling the properties, we’re yet to hear – though $137 million is merely a drop in the ocean when it comes to hit overall net worth.
“Tesla Stock Price Is Too High”
The very same day as he pledged to sell his multiple properties, Elon tweeted his thoughts on the cost of Tesla stock – decreasing Tesla’s overall value by around $14 billion in seconds.
Taking to his Twitter once again, the entrepreneur told followers ‘Tesla stock price is too high imo’. A short statement, but one that caused plenty of damage, as Tesla shares dropped by 12% in the half an hour immediately following the tweet.
Elon himself lost $3 billion of his own stake in Tesla as investors scrambled to bail on the company in the wake of the damning tweet. He also received plenty of backlash from stock traders across Twitter, with one follower claiming that the tweet cost him $10,000.
Given that Musk has made no secrets of his plans to colonise the red planet in the past, this one seems to make very little sense – however, it’s a lot more logical than you might think.
Musk’s plans to create a liveable base for humans on Mars is one thing, but the conditions on Mars and within its surrounding atmosphere mean that there’s little chance life on the planet could ever be anything close to what we experience here on Earth. However, targeting the planet with a nuclear hit may theoretically melt Mars’ polar ice caps and release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Musk believes that this may then initiate the process of climate change, creating conditions similar to the conditions on Earth and creating a habitable environment for normal life to take place.
Asked in response to this tweet how long it would take for Mars to reach Earth-like conditions under these circumstances, Musk stated ‘Aspirationally, decades’. So, should the billionaire ever find himself with access to the big red button, we could be emigrating to Mars within our own lifetimes…
“Taking Tesla Private”
Simultaneously the most controversial and impactful of Elon Musk’s tweets, this short post set off a chain of events that cost the billionaire $20 million – all for a joke based on the 4/20 holiday celebrated by stoners. Leaked texts between rapper Azealia Banks and Musk’s partner Grimes have also suggested that Elon was high at the time the post was made.
The tweet was followed by a second post stating that investor support was confirmed but was contingent on a shareholder vote. This follow-up post resulted in a lawsuit between Musk and the SEC, who alleged that this was untrue, in which Musk was hit with the $20 million fine and ordered to step down from Tesla’s board of directors for three years. Despite this, he has since responded to a follower on Twitter stating that the joke was ‘worth it’ and has continued to goad the SEC over social media.
This may be Musk’s biggest Twitter-related controversy so far, but we’re sure it will not be the last. One thing we will say is that this is certainly one account worth following, for better or for worse.