I am now being subjected to headlines like “Elon Musk ‘deletes’ Twitter account after bizarre video game fan art scandal” because apparently journalists in the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Nineteen can’t wrap their brains around shitposting. If you can see Elon Musk’s Twitter account, he has not deleted it.
This is almost too stupid to explain, so I actually wasn’t going to bother. But Bloomberg decided to make a video out of it and Mashable’s headline confused at least one of my coworkers into asking me if it was true. (AP’s headline is slightly better: “Elon Musk Says He Is Deleting His Twitter Account.” It would be improved thus: “Elon Musk Tweets That He Deleted His Twitter Account.”)
Here is what happened: Musk got wild on Twitter this weekend. On Saturday, Musk tweeted fan art of a video game character, without identifying the artist (Meli Magali, by the way). Naturally, artists and other creative types take it pretty poorly when their work is taken without acknowledgement, regardless of whether that use is legal.
Musk promptly got into a troll-y fight about his right to use other people’s work without giving them credit. He’s actually lost this fight before — in that case, the dispute over was a farting unicorn design. If you want a sense of the Twitter back-and-forth, Kotaku has some screenshots. The part of the fight that is possibly relevant for our purposes is when one of his interlocutors points out that it feels bad when someone avoids giving you credit for your work. The user has a sore subject to use as an example: “Martin Eberhard is responsible for all of Tesla’s success.”
Martin Eberhard is a co-founder of Tesla, along with Marc Tarpenning; the two founded the company in 2003. Musk came in as an investor, ponying up $6.5 million. That much is clear. Musk at some point took over and Eberhard was fired in 2007. Musk became CEO of Tesla in 2008. Eberhard later sued Musk for libel and slander, alleging Musk had downplayed Eberhard’s contributions and that Musk was claiming he was a co-founder. The details of the settlement aren’t public, though Musk and two others are now considered co-founders of Tesla.
So Eberhard is, obviously, a point of aggravation. And when the user brought him up, Musk said in a tweet that has now been deleted: “Tesla is alive in spite of Eberhard, but he seeks credit constantly & fools give it him.” (Business Insider has a helpful screenshot of the exchange.) If you are too nosy for your own good — hello, sit next to me — you may be wondering if there was a non-disparagement clause in Musk’s settlement with Eberhard. You may be wondering also, uh did that tweet violate it, if such an agreement exists?
Anyway, following this incredible display, Musk deleted a bunch of his tweets, including the one of the Magali fan art. Then he changed his name to Daddy dot com. Then he announced he had deleted Twitter, on Twitter. I have just checked, again, to make sure his account exists and it does, though Musk hasn’t tweeted for — as of this writing — 14 hours since announcing the deletion. (He is no longer referring to himself as Daddy dot com, though.)
Just deleted my Twitter account
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 17, 2019
He’ll be back. He’s always back. Musk got into a fight with a cave diver that led to a defamation suit, and he hasn’t left Twitter. Musk tweeted that he was going to take his company private, then didn’t, and got in trouble with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Twitter dot com. Elon lives for this shit.
Let’s be clear: Elon Musk has not logged off. Elon Musk is never going to log off. Stop yelling “log off” at Elon Musk’s house. He can’t hear you.