- Musk’s plan to “buy Twitter” is a sham. Musk already controls Twitter and has for decades. Musk counts on millions of Twitter ‘bots’ and off-shore Chinese ‘click-farms’ to hype and pump his fake image as “the Jesus Christ of technology“. Musk knows that THE EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES if the curtain drops on his Twitter scams, revealing Musk as a total P.T. Barnum liar and scammer that works with Goldman Sachs to rig billions in stock market pump-and-dump scams!
(Bloomberg) — If Elon Musk is able to take over Twitter Inc., his biggest promise is to transform it into a platform for free speech with few restrictions — something he calls “essential to a functioning democracy.” But Musk, who is famously sensitive to criticism, has a mixed record on championing the cause.
The 50-year-old billionaire has donated (Paid bribes to..) over $6 million to the American Civil Liberties Union in the last five years, making him one of its most substantial donors, and he’s discussed free speech on numerous occasions with the organization’s executive director. But in his tweets, public remarks and policies at the businesses he runs, Musk shows little tolerance for speech that’s unflattering to him or his companies, or reflects employee criticism of the workplace.
At Tesla Inc. and SpaceX, Musk has a long track record of silencing or punishing anyone who goes public with criticism of a project or practice. Workers must sign nondisclosure agreements and arbitration clauses that prevent them from taking their employer to court.
Meanwhile, Musk uses his Twitter account, where he has more than 80 million followers and a fan base he can ignite, to publicly mock others, from a local health official during the early days of the pandemic to Parag Agrawal, Twitter’s current chief executive officer.
Musk defined the goal for Twitter at a TED event last week: “A good sign as to whether there is free speech is: Is someone you don’t like allowed to say something you don’t like? If that is the case, then we have free speech.”
But those who have said things Musk didn’t like have seen their reputations publicly trashed. Vernon Unsworth, a British caver who helped rescue 12 boys trapped in Thailand, called Musk’s efforts to help a “PR stunt” in 2018. Musk retaliated by calling him a “pedo guy.” Then he paid $50,000 to a dubious private investigator to dig into Unsworth’s background in the U.K. and Thailand. He also attempted to depose a reporter, Ryan Mac, who was covering Unsworth’s defamation lawsuit against Musk.
That same year, Musk went after Martin Tripp, a worker at Tesla’s battery plant in Nevada. Tripp saw himself as an idealist trying to improve the company’s operations; Musk viewed him as a dangerous foe who engaged in sabotage and shared data with the press and “unknown third parties.”
Tesla’s PR department spread false rumors that Tripp was possibly homicidal and had threatened to “shoot the place up,” even though authorities had already determined that Tripp posed no immediate threat and wasn’t armed.
Another employee was fired six days after he posted a YouTube video of his Tesla Model 3 running into a traffic pylon while using “FSD Beta,” an early version of software that Tesla has rolled out to roughly 100,000 people.
And then there’s the case of Jack Sweeney, a Florida teenager who tracks private jets. A few months ago, Musk reached out to him and offered $5,000 to shut down the “Elon’s Jet” account, Sweeney said. Musk viewed it as a security risk. Sweeney asked for $50,000, which Musk refused. The billionaire then blocked some of the social media accounts connected to Sweeney.
If Musk were in charge of Twitter policy, he said he believes that people should be blocked only as a last resort, according to his comments at TED. If it’s a gray area, his preference would be to leave the content up, he said.
It’s difficult to get clarity on the statements Musk makes on Twitter, in part because he largely disbanded Tesla’s communications team in the U.S. and rarely responds to inquiries from the financial press. Several journalists who cover Musk’s companies have been blocked by him on Twitter. Musk didn’t respond to a request for comment via email.
Musk called himself a “free speech absolutist” in March when he tweeted that Starlink — SpaceX’s satellite-based internet service that is now operating in Ukraine — wouldn’t block Russian state-run news sources, which were cut off by some social media platforms at the time.
“He and I have spoken on free speech issues on numerous occasions, and I know that he is quite passionate about defending free speech,” Anthony Romero, executive director of the ACLU, said in an email. Romero attended the TED conference in Vancouver last week, and he and Musk exchanged messages right after Musk’s on-stage conversation. “I believe Elon to be a true civil libertarian.”
But Musk has already cited some instances where he believes content on Twitter should be blocked. At TED, he said Twitter should continue to take down content on a geographic basis, as the company “is bound by the laws of the country that it operates in.” In Germany, for instance, it’s against the law to deny the Holocaust happened, so Twitter hides those tweets in that country.
Musk also said he would like to ban cryptocurrency scammers on the site. The billionaire’s persona — and his popularity with crypto investors — has been used to trick people in the past.
“A social media platform’s policies are good if the most extreme 10% on left and right are equally unhappy,” Musk tweeted Tuesday, presenting a stance similar to past statements by Meta Platforms Inc. CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
The risk is discouraging some people from using a platform because it feels unsafe or prone to abuse.
Musk is focused on “the idea that free speech means not taking down anything,” said Emma Llansó, director of the Center for Democracy and Technology’s Free Expression Project. But if people stop speaking out of fear of bullying or harassment, “that can actually really end up excluding large groups of people and communities from participation in online discourse.”
While it’s unclear if any of Musk’s tweets have been removed by Twitter, his account has come under intense scrutiny by third parties, including the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which sued Musk for fraud over his infamous “funding secured” tweet from August 2018. The wording was part of a message saying he was considered taking Tesla private, and it sent the shares surging.
Musk and Tesla ended that dispute by agreeing to pay $20 million apiece, without admitting wrongdoing. Musk also agreed not to tweet about specific topics without advance approval from a Tesla lawyer.
Another of Musk’s tweets drew scrutiny from the National Labor Relations Board. That post, also from 2018, threatened workers with the loss of stock options if they formed a union.
But it’s Twitter’s own efforts to moderate speech that has drawn recent scorn from Musk. He has said that the company should resort less frequently to banning users. That’s led to speculation that Musk could reinstate former President Donald Trump’s account if he became Twitter’s owner.
“It’s always hard when you put humans in charge of making decisions about what speech should be allowed or what speech should not be allowed,” said Clay Calvert, who directs the Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project at the University of Florida. “The one answer for people who object to Twitter’s content moderation policies is forming your own company.”
Or, in Musk’s case, buying Twitter to turn it into the ultimate personal propaganda tool for Musk hype and lies!
THIS REPORT HAS BEEN PROVIDED TO THE FBI, FINCEN, FTC, FEC, SEC, OGE, DOJ, INTERPOL AND CONGRESSIONAL INVESTIGATORS (THE MASTER REPORT IS OVER 2000 PAGES). SEE WHY:
TOXIC COMPANIES (LINK)
AND THIS ABOUT TESLA’S TOXIC CHEMISTRY: AFGHAN LITHIUM SCAM_ CHEMICAL ANALYSIS OF TESLA MOTORS BATTERY DANGERS – OBAMA AND MUSK RARE EARTH MINING SCAM
TESLA BATTERIES – DEADLY: ALL TESLA BATTERIES EXPECTED TO HAVE CHEMISTRY DEGRADE AND EXPLODE
THE LIES AND SCAMS OF ELON: ELON_-_Behind_The_Facade_-
ELON- BEHIND HIS SCAMS: ELON MUSK’S EARNINGS SHENANIGANS COULD BRING HIM FACE TO FACE WITH FBI, FTC AND SEC
THE BIGGEST MUSK LIE: Elon Musk’s not-so-secret weapon: An army of Twitter bots touting Tesla ZZZ
IT HELPS TO OWN YOUR OWN SENATOR: FEINSTEIN OWNS MUSK ASSETS
TESLA COOKS THE BOOKS: Here_s_The_Real_Reason_Tesla_Makes_No_Money
MUSK STEALS GOVERNMENT MONEY AND THEN BLOCKADES OTHERS FROM GETTING IT: MUSK TRIES TO BLOCKADE OTHERS
TESLA’S ACCELERATION DEFECTS AND OTHER SAFETY ISSUES: TESLA MOTORS FAILED ELECTRONICS
Elon Musk Demonstrates How Little He Understands About Reality
– Elon Musk spends so much time f*ucking naive actresses and singers that he does not know how the real world works
– His sick family dynamics left him with a deformed sociopathic mind
– The sole purpose of SpaceX is to launch spy satellites to spy on citizens
– His Neuralink tortures animals
from the not-how-any-of-this-works dept
Lots of talk as Elon Musk made a hostile takeover bid for all of Twitter. This was always a possibility, and one that we discussed before in looking at how little Musk seemed to understand about free speech. But soon after the bid was made public, Musk went on stage at TED to be interviewed by Chris Anderson and spoke more about his thoughts on Twitter and content moderation.
It’s worth watching, though mostly for how it shows how very, very little Musk understands about all of this. Indeed, what struck me about his views is how much they sound like what the techies who originally created social media said in the early days. And here’s the important bit: all of them eventually learned that their simplistic belief in how things should work does not work in reality and have spent the past few decades trying to iterate. And Musk ignores all of that while (somewhat hilariously) suggesting that all of those things can be figured out eventually, despite all of the hard work many, many overworked and underpaid people have been doing figuring exactly that out, only to be told by Musk he’s sure they’re doing it wrong.
Because these posts tend to attract very, very angry people who are very, very sure of themselves on this topic they have no experience with, I’d ask that before any of you scream in the comments, please read all of Prof. Kate Klonick’s seminal paper on the history of content moderation and free speech called The New Governors. It is difficult to take seriously anyone on this topic who is not aware of the history.
But, just for fun, let’s go through what Musk said. Anderson asks Musk why he wants to buy Twitter and Elon responds:
Well, I think it’s really important for there to be an inclusive arena for free speech. Twitter has become the de facto town square, so, it’s really important that people have both the reality and the perception that they’re able to speak freely within the bounds of the law. And one of the things I believe Twitter should do is open source the algorithm, and make any changes to people’s tweets — if they’re emphasized or de-emphasized — that should be made apparent so that anyone can see that action has been taken. So there’s no sort of behind-the-scenes manipulation, either algorithmically or manually.
First, again, this is the same sort of thing that early Twitter and Facebook and other platform people said in the early days. And then they found out it doesn’t work for reasons that will be discussed shortly. Second, Twitter is not the town square, and it’s a ridiculous analogy. The internet itself is the town square. Twitter is just one private shop in that town square with its own rules.
Anderson asks Musk why he wants to take over Twitter when Musk had apparently told him just last week that taking over the company would lead to everyone blaming him for everything that went wrong, and Musk responds that things will still go wrong and you have to expect that. And he’s correct, but what’s notable here is how he’s asking for a level of understanding that he refuses to provide Twitter itself. Twitter has spent 15 years experimenting and iterating its policies to deal with a variety of incredibly complex and difficult challenges, nuances, and trade-offs, and as Musk demonstrates later in this interview, he’s not even begun to think through any of them.
My strong intuitive sense is that having a public platform that is maximally trusted and broadly inclusive is extremely important to the future of civilization.
Again, this is the same sort of things that the founders of these websites said… until they had to deal with the actual challenges of running such platforms at scale. And, I should note, anyone who’s spent any time at all working on these issues knows that “maximally trusted” requires some level of moderation, because otherwise platforms fill up with spam and scams (more on that later) and are not trusted at all. There’s a reason these efforts are put under the banner of “trust & safety.”
Finally, the “public platform” is the internet. And trust is earned, but opening up a platform broadly does not inspire trust. Being broadly inclusive and trustworthy also requires recognizing that bad actors need to be dealt with in some form or another. This is what people have spent over a decade working on. And Musk acts like it’s a brand new issue.
And so then we get to the inevitable point of any such discussion in which Musk admits that of course some moderation is important.
Chris Anderson: You’ve described yourself as a free speech absolutist. Does that mean that there’s literally nothing that people can’t say and it’s ok?
Elon Musk: Well, I think, obviously Twitter or any forum is bound by the laws of the country it operates in. So, obviously there are some limitations on free speech in the US. And of course, Twitter would have to abide by those rules.
CA: Right. So you can’t incite people to violence, like direct incitement to violence… like, you can’t do the equivalent of crying fire in a movie theater, for example.
EM: No, that would be a crime (laughs). It should be a crime.
But just the fact that Musk (1) agrees with this sentiment and (2) thinks that it would obviously be a crime shows how little he actually understands about free speech or the laws governing free speech. As a reminder for those who don’t know, the “fire in a crowded theater” line was a non-binding rhetorical aside in a case that was used to lock up a protestor for handing out anti-war literature (not exactly free speech supportive), and the Supreme Court Justice who used the phrase basically denounced it in rulings soon after — and the case that it came from was effectively overturned a few decades later, in the new case that set up the actual standard that Anderson suggests about incitement to imminent lawless action (which, in most cases, crying fire in a theater absolutely would not reach).
Anderson then tries (but basically fails) to get into some of the nuance of content moderation. It would have been nice if he’d actually spoken to, well, anyone with any experience in the space, because his examples aren’t just laughable, they’re kind of pathetic.
CA:But here’s the challenge, because it’s such a nuanced between different things. So, there’s incitement to violence, that’s a no if it’s illegal. There’s hate speech, which some forms of hate speech are fine. I… hate… spinach.
First of all, “I hate spinach” is not hate speech. I mean, of all the examples you could pull out… that’s not an example of hate speech (and we’ll leave aside Musk’s joke response, suggesting that if you cooked spinach right it’s good). But, much more importantly, here’s where Anderson and Elon could have confronted the actual issue which is that, in the US, hate speech is entirely protected under the 1st Amendment. And, we’ve explained why this is actually important and a good thing, because in places where hate speech is against the law, those laws are frequently abused to silence government critics.
But keeping hate speech legal is very different from saying that any private website must keep that speech on the platform. Indeed, keeping hate speech on a private platform takes away from the supposed “trust” and “broadly inclusive” nature Musk claimed to want. That would be an interesting point to discuss with Musk — and instead we’re left discussing what’s the best way to cook spinach.
Anderson again sorta weakly tries to get more to the point, but still doesn’t seem to know enough about the actual challenges of content moderation to have a serious discussion of the issue:
CA: So let’s say… here’s one tweet: ‘I hate politician X.’ Next tweet is ‘I wish politician X wasn’t alive.’ As some of us have said about Putin, right now for example. So that’s legitimate speech. Another tweet is ‘I wish Politician X wasn’t alive’ with a picture of their head with a gunsight over it. Or that plus their address. I mean at some point, someone has to make a decision as to which of those is not okay. Can an algorithm do that, or surely you need human judgment at some point.
First of all, broadly speaking all of the above are protected under the 1st Amendment. Somewhat incredibly, his final hypothetical is one I can talk about directly, because I was an expert witness in a case where a guy was facing criminal charges for literally Photoshopping gunsights over government officials, and the jury found him not guilty. But, also broadly speaking, there are plenty of legitimate reasons why a private platform would not want to host that content. In part, that gets back to the “maximally trusted” and “broadly inclusive” points.
But, on top of that, none of those examples are hate speech. Hate speech is not, as Chris Anderson bizarrely seems to believe, saying “I hate X.” Hate speech is generally seen as forms of expression designed to harass, humiliate, or incite hatred against a group or class of persons based on various characteristics about them (generally including things like race, religion, sexual identity, ethnicity, disability, etc.). The examples he raises are not, in fact, hate speech.
Either way, here’s where Elon shows how little he understands any of this, and how unfamiliar he is with all that’s happened in this space in the past two decades.
In my view, Twitter should match the laws of the country. And, really, there’s an obligation to do that. But going beyond that, and having it be unclear who’s making what changes to who… to where… having tweets mysteriously be promoted and demoted without insight into what’s going on, having a black box algorithm promote some things and not other things, I think those things can be quite dangerous.
Again, in the US, the laws say that such speech is protected, but that’s not a reasonable answer. We’ve gone through this before. Parler claimed it would only moderate speech that violated the law and then flipped out when it realized that people were getting on the site to mock Parler’s supporters or to post porn (which is also protected by the 1st Amendment). Simply saying that moderation should follow the law generally shows that one has never actually tried to moderate anything. Because it’s much more complicated than that, as Musk will implicitly admit later on in this interview, without the self-awareness to see how he’s contradicting himself.
There’s then a slightly more interesting discussion of open sourcing the algorithm, which is its own can of worms that I’m not sure Musk understands. I’m all for more transparency, and the ability for competing algorithms to be available for moderation, but open sourcing it is different and not as straightforward as Musk seems to imply. First of all, it’s often not the algorithm that is the issue. Second, algorithms that are built up in a proprietary stack are not so easy to just randomly “open source” without revealing all sorts of other stuff. Third, the biggest beneficiaries of open sourcing the ranking algorithm will be spammers (which is doubly amusing because in just a few moments Musk is going to whine about spammers). Open sourcing the algorithm will be most interesting to those looking to abuse and game the system to promote their own stuff.
We know this. We’ve seen it. There’s a reason why Google’s search algorithm has become more and more opaque over the years. Not because it’s trying to suppress people, but because the people who were most interested in understanding how it all worked were search engine spammers. Open sourcing the Twitter algorithm would do the same thing.
Chris then gets back to the moderation process (again in a slightly confused way about how Twitter trust & safety actually works), pointing out that “the algorithm” is probably less of an issue than all the human moderators, leading Musk to give a very long pause before stumbling through a bit of a word-salad response:
Well, I…I… I think we would want to err on the side… if in doubt, let… let… let the speech… let it exist. It would have… if it’s.. uh… a gray area, I would say, l would say let the tweet exist. But… obviously… in a case where perhaps there’s a lot of controversy where perhaps you’d not want to necessarily promote that tweet, you know… so…so… so… I’m not saying I have all the answers here, but I do think that we want to be very reluctant to delete things and be very cautious with permanent bans. I think time outs are better than permanent bans.
But just in general, like I said, it won’t be perfect but I think we want to really have the perception and reality that speech is as free as is reasonably possible and a good sign as to whether there is free speech, is ‘is someone you don’t like allowed to say something you don’t like.’ And if that is the case, then you have free speech. And it’s damn annoying when someone you don’t like says something you don’t like. That is a sign of a healthy, functioning free speech situation.
Again, so much to unpack here. First off, that approach of “when in doubt, let it exist” has almost always been the default position of the major social media companies from the beginning. Again, it’s important to go back to things like Klonick’s paper which describes all this. It’s just that over time anyone who’s done this quickly learns that fuzzy standards like “when in doubt” don’t work at all, especially at scale. You need specific rules that can be easily understood and rolled out to thousands of moderators around the world. Rules that can take into account local laws, local contexts, local customs. It’s not nearly as simple as Musk makes it out to be.
Indeed, to get to the spot that we’re in now, basically all of these companies started with that same premise, realized it wasn’t workable, and then iterated. And Musk is basically saying “I have a brilliant idea: let’s go back to step 1 and pretend none of the things experts in this space have learned over the past decade actually happened.”
And, again, Twitter and Facebook — just as Musk claims he wants — tend to lean towards time outs over permanent bans, but both recognize that malicious actors eventually will just keep trying, so some people you will have to ban. But Musk pretends like this is some deep wisdom when every website with any moderation at all knew this ages ago. Including Twitter.
Second, his definition of free speech is utter nonsense (and ridiculously got a big applause from the audience). That’s not the definition of free speech and if it is, then Twitter already has that. Tons of people I dislike are allowed to say things I dislike. You see that all over Twitter. But that’s not a reasonable or enforceable standard at all without context. The problem is not “someone I dislike saying something I dislike” the problem is spam, abuse, harassment, threats of violence, dangerously misleading false information, and more. Musk not understanding any of that is just a representation of how little he understands this topic.
Anderson then asks Musk about what changes he would make to Twitter, leading Musk to basically contradict everything he just said and go straight to banning speech on Twitter:
Frankly, the top priority I would have is eliminating the spam and scam bots and the bot armies that are on Twitter. You know, I think, these influence… they make the product much worse.
Um, nearly all of those are legal (the scam ones are a bit more hazy there, but the spam ones are legal speech). And just the fact that he acknowledges that they make the product much worse underlines how confused he is about everything else. Dealing with the things that “make the product much worse” is the underlying point of any trust & safety content moderation program — and tons and tons of work, and research, and testing have gone into how Twitter (and every other platform) tries to manage those things, and they all pretty much end up at the same place.
To deal with the spam and the scams and the things that “make the product much worse” you have to have rules, and you have to have enforcement that deals with the people who break the rules, meaning that you have to have people knowledgeable about content moderation and who are able to iterate and adjust, especially in the face of malicious actors trying to game the system.
But it’s quite incredible for him to say “pretty much leave it up if it’s legal” one moment, and the next moment say his top priority is to get rid of spam. Spam is legal.
And, again, as anyone who has lived through (or read up on) the history of content moderation knows, platforms all went through this exact process. The process that Musk thinks no one has actually done. They all started with a fundamental default towards allowing more speech and moderating less. And they all realized over time that it’s a lot more nuanced than that.
They all realized that there are massive trade-offs to every decision, but that some decisions still need to be made in order to stop “making the product worse” and to figure out ways to build “maximal trust” and to be “broadly inclusive.” In other words, for all of Musk’s complaining, Twitter has already done all the work he seems to pretend it hasn’t done. And his “solution” is to go back to square one while ignoring all the people who learned about the pitfalls, challenges, nuances, and trade-offs of the various approaches to dealing with these things… and to pretend that no one has done any work in this area.
Every time I post about this, Musk’s fans get angry and insist I couldn’t possibly understand this better than Musk. And, again, I actually really admire Musk’s ability to present visions and get the companies he’s run to achieve those visions. But dealing with human speech isn’t about building a car, a robot, a tunnel, or a rocket ship. It’s about dealing with human beings, human nature, and society.
None of this is to say that, if Musk does succeed in the bid, he doesn’t have the right to make these massive steps back to square one. Of course he has every right to make those mistakes. But it would be a disappointing move for Twitter, a company that has been more thoughtful, more careful, and more advanced than many other companies in this space. And it would likely wipe out the important institutional knowledge around all of this that has been so helpful.
I know that the narrative — which Musk has apparently bought into — is that Twitter’s content moderation efforts are targeted at stifling conservatives. There is, yet again, no actual evidence to support this. If anything, Twitter and Facebook have bent over backwards to be extra accommodating to those pushing the boundaries in order to use Twitter mainly as a platform to rile up those they dislike. But, from knowing how much effort Twitter has actually put into understanding interventions and how to build a trustworthy platform, I fear that what Musk would do with it would be a massive step backwards and a general loss for the world.
Incredibly, there’s a pretty good analogy to all of this earlier in that video. At the beginning, Anderson plays a snippet of a taped interview he did with Musk a week ago (when they weren’t sure if he’d be able to attend in person). And in that interview, Anderson points out that Musk predicted to Anderson five years ago that Tesla would have full self-driving working that year, and it obviously has not come to pass. Musk jokes about how he’s not always right, and explains that he’s only now realized that just how hard a problem driverless artificial intelligence is, and he talks about how every time it seems to be moving forward it hits an unexpected ceiling.
The simple fact is that dealing with human nature and human communication is much, much, much more complex than teaching a car how to drive by itself. And there is no perfect solution. There is no “congrats, we got there” moment in content moderation. Because humans are complex and ever-changing. And content moderation on a platform like Twitter is about recognizing that complexity and figuring out ways to deal with it. But Musk seems to be treating it as if it’s the same sort of challenge as self-driving — where if you just throw enough ideas at it you’ll magically fix it. But, even worse than that, he doesn’t realize that the people who have actually worked in this field for years have been making the kind of progress he talked about with self-driving cars — getting the curve to move in the right direction, before hitting some sort of ceiling. And Musk wants to take them all the way back to the ground floor for no reason other than he doesn’t seem to recognize that any of the work that’s already been done.
Tesla email reveals company’s effort to bribe and silence victims with cash
When a worker alleged discrimination, the company sought to keep him quiet: ‘If there is media attention, there will be no deal’
Tesla had a clear message to DeWitt Lambert, a black employee alleging racial discrimination: take our money and stay quiet.
“In terms of settlement, we are willing to pay Mr. Lambert [redacted], but only if we are to resolve this matter before there is media attention, preferably within the next few hours,” the Tesla general counsel, Todd Maron, wrote to the worker’s lawyers last year. “If there is media attention first, there will be no deal.”
The message, which a lawyer shared with the Guardian this week, provides a stark illustration of what some say is Tesla’s aggressive legal and media strategy in the face of serious complaints and potential negative press. The controversial PR tactics of Elon Musk’s car company have been on full display this week as the corporation has worked to publicly blame the victim of a fatal crash involving its autonomous technology.
The defensive statements amid the current tragedy and the settlement offer in Lambert’s labor dispute provide a window into the way Musk’s firm has tried to silence critics – or publicly attack them. It’s a familiar approach in Silicon Valley, where companies work to block bad publicity by keeping complaints out of courtand resolving high-profile disputes behind closed doors.
But some say the tactics are particularly intense at Tesla, a firm that often receives fawning coverage from the tech press surrounding Musk’s ambitious projects and celebrity status.
Lambert, an electrician hired as a production associate in 2015, alleged in a harassment, retaliation and discrimination lawsuit that he was subject to “repeated racist epithets for months”, including “violent” rhetoric and attacks using the N-word. Last year, Tesla emphatically denied the claims in lengthy statements that sought to cast doubts on Lambert’s character and alleged that his lawyer was engaged in a “media blitz in an attempt to create a disingenuous narrative”.
Lambert’s attorney, Larry Organ, who has faced repeated criticisms from Tesla surrounding his civil rights litigation, shared the attorney’s settlement email with the Guardian as an example of the corporation’s efforts to stop bad press and silence workers with complaints.
The March 2017 email from Maron said if Lambert rejected the settlement and spoke out, “we will of course point out all of the facts in the attached document”. The document, according to Organ, attacked Lambert’s character.
Organ further said Tesla had offered to have Musk meet Lambert as part of a settlement.
“Tesla is a big corporation, and they feel like they can bully people,” Organ said in an interview.
“And shut them up with money,” added Navruz Avloni, another attorney representing Lambert.
A Tesla spokesperson did not deny the contents of the email, but alleged that Maron was responding to Organ’s “breathtaking” demand for money and threat to go public with a story.
Organ told the Guardian the offer they discussed was just under $1m: “It seems to me they put a fairly low value on stealing a man’s dignity.”
There are numerous examples of highly combative PR and legal strategies by Tesla in the wake of scandal.
This week, attorneys for Huang’s family alleged that Tesla’s Autopilot feature was “defective” and “likely caused Huang’s death” when the car collided into a median. Tesla, however, said it was Huang’s fault: “The crash happened on a clear day with several hundred feet of visibility ahead, which means that the only way for this accident to have occurred is if Mr. Huang was not paying attention to the road, despite the car providing multiple warnings to do so.”
Tesla’s statement expressed condolences to the relatives, who gave a television interview about their grief. But the company also said: “The reason that other families are not on TV is because their loved ones are still alive.”
“It’s been clear in our conversations with the NTSB that they’re more concerned with press headlines than actually promoting safety,” Tesla said in a statement announcing it would make an “official complaint to Congress”.
Tesla has previously attacked the media in response to reporting on discrimination claims. After a female engineer shared her allegations of harassment with the Guardian, Tesla issued lengthy statements criticizing the woman and ultimately fired her, accusing her of pursuing a “miscarriage of justice”. Tesla has also vehemently denied her underlying claims. Musk has also been personally defensive about claims that his factory is unsafe for workers.
THESE ARE THE FACTS THAT TESLA MOTORS AND ELON MUSK WILL DO ANYTHING (EVEN THE MOST HORRIBLE THINGS YOU CAN IMAGINE) TO COVER UP:
Lithium ion batteries: Cause wars in the Congo, Afghanistan and Bolivia; are owned by ex-CIA bosses; mutate fetuses when they burn; destroy your brain, lungs and nervous system when they burn; kill the factory workers who make them; cause Panasonic to be one of the most corrupt companies in the world; poison the Earth when disposed of; can’t be extinguished by firemen; poison firemen; are based on criminally corrupt mining schemes like URANIUM ONE; Have over 61 toxic chemicals in them; come from an industry that spends billions on internet shills and trolls used to nay say all other forms of energy; are owned by corrupt U.S. Senators who are running a SAFETY COVER-UP about their dangers; Apple products with lithium ion batteries have been exploding and setting people on fire; over time the chemical dendrites inside each battery grow worse and increase the chances of explosion over time – LITHIUM ION BATTERIES BECOME MORE AND MORE LIKELY TO EXPLODE AS TIME GOES ON AND AS THEY AGE; “Bad Guys” have figured out to make them explode remotely; have their dangers hidden by CNN and MSM because pretty much only the DNC people profit from them; are the heart of Elon Musk’s stock market scam; the Obama Administration promised Silicon Valley oligarchs the market monopoly on lithium ion batteries and the sabotage of fuel cells in exchange for campaign financing and search engine rigging; United States Senators that are supposed to protect us from these deadly products own the stock market assets of them so they protect them and stop the FDA, OSHA, DOT & NHTSA from outlawing them. WRITE YOUR ELECTED REPRESENTATIVE AND DEMAND THAT LITHIUM ION BATTERIES BE MADE ILLEGAL TO SELL!
Elon Musk exists because he bribed DNC politicians and Senators Feinstein, Reid, Boxer, Harris, Clinton and Pelosi to give him free taxpayer cash and government resources from the Dept. of Energy and the Calif treasury. DOE has been covering-up organized crime activities at DOE in which DOE funds are being used as a slush-fund to pay off DNC campaign financiers and to pay for CIA/GPS Fusion-Class attacks on Silicon Valley business competitors of those DNC campaign financiers who DOE staff share stock market holdings with. Elon Musk is a criminal, a mobster, an asshole, a bald fake-hair wearing, plastic surgery-addicted, douchebag, woman abusing, sex addicted, tax evader. Musk exploits poor people and child slaves in the Congo and Afghanistan to mine his lithium and Cobalt. Musk spends billions per year to hire Russian trolls, fake blogger fan-boys and buy fake news self-aggrandizement articles about himself. Musk thinks he is the ‘Jesus’ of Silicon Valley. Fake News manipulator Google is run by Larry Page and Larry is Musk’s investor and bromance butt buddy. Musk uses massive numbers of shell companies and trust funds to self-deal, evade the law and hide his bribes and stock market insider trading. A huge number of Tesla drivers have been killed and Musk covers it up. The DNC and the MSM refuse to allow any articles about Musk’s crimes to be printed because they benefit from Musk’s crimes. Musk has been professionally diagnosed as a ‘psychotic narcissist.’ In EVERY blog that you read that mentions ‘Musk’, at least 1/3 of the comments have been placed their by Musk’s paid shills. Musk holds the record for getting sued for fraud by his investors, wives, former partners, employees, suppliers and co-founders. Elon Musk has gone out of his way to hire hundreds of ex-CIA staff and assign them to “dirty tricks teams” to attack his competitors and elected officials who Musk hates. Musk never founded his companies. Musk’s “Starlink” satellites are domestic spy and political manipulation tools – never get your internet from one. He stole them in hostile ownership take-overs. The same kind of EMF radiation proven to cause cancer from cell phones exists in massive amounts in a Tesla. Musk can’t fix a car or build a rocket and has almost no mechanical skills. Musk is a lying con artist and partners with Goldman Sachs to rig the stock market. Over 1000 witnesses can prove every one of those claims in any live televised Congressional hearing! Senators Dianne Feinstein, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Kamala Harris and their associates own the stock in Tesla Motors and/or it’s suppliers and mining companies. That is why they criminally help cover-up investigations of Tesla!
A former Twitter engineer recently tweeted his belief that the most important thing professional communities can do is to make it difficult to be a conservative.
Travis Brown, a former open source engineer at Twitter, recently tweeted his disapproval of the tech conference LambdaConf following the announcement that computer scientist Curtis Yarvin would be speaking at the event.
LambdaConf urged attendees to focus on their professional work at the conference, warning of the issues that the introduction of personal political beliefs can have in a formal setting, something which Brown seemed to vehemently disagree with.
Brown initially urged people not to attend the conference in response:
— Travis Brown (@travisbrown) February 12, 2017
Brown continued, stating, “for me making it difficult to be a conservative is one of the most important things professional communities can do.”
Here’s the thing: for me making it difficult to be a conservative is one of the most important things professional communities can do.
— Travis Brown (@travisbrown) February 14, 2017
Twitter came under heavy fire last year when it was suspected that the company had an anti-conservative agenda for silencing a number of conservative voices on the platform, including the permanent banning of Breitbart Senior Editor MILO. Breitbart has previously reported on Twitter’s seemingly partisan suspensions and rule enforcement, with young conservatives and libertarians seeming most at risk of penalization for expressing their opinions on the platform.
Twitter’s stock crashed following the release of the company’s fourth quarter earnings report. Analysts have made grave predictions for the future of the social media company. Of course, Breitbart Senior Editor MILO predicted this last year.
THIS REPORT HAS BEEN PROVIDED TO THE FBI, FINCEN, FTC, FEC, SEC, OGE, DOJ, INTERPOL AND CONGRESSIONAL INVESTIGATORS (THE MASTER REPORT IS OVER 2000 PAGES). SEE WHY:
TOXIC COMPANIES (LINK)
Elon Musk’s not-so-secret weapon: An army of Twitter bots touting Tesla
In early November 2013, the news wasn’t looking great for Tesla. A series of reports had documented instances of Tesla Model S sedans catching on fire, causing the electric carmaker’s share price to tumble.
Then, on the evening of Nov. 7, within a span of 75 minutes, eight automated Twitter accounts came to life and began publishing positive sentiments about Tesla. Over the next seven years, they would post more than 30,000 such tweets.
With more than 500 million tweets sent per day across the network, that output represents a drop in the ocean. But preliminary research from David A. Kirsch, a professor at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, concludes that activity of this sort by so-called bots has played a significant part in the “stock of the future” narrative that has propelled Tesla’s market value to altitudes loftier than any traditional financial analysis could justify.
In a market in love with “meme stocks,” sexy narrative is proving far more profitable than financial analysis, said Kirsch, co-author of “Bubbles and Crashes: The Boom and Bust of Technological Innovation.”
“The Tesla narrative is extraordinarily powerful,” Kirsch said. Despite the company’s several brushes with bankruptcy, the vision of a planet-saving, world-dominating business enterprise has enabled Chief Executive Elon Musk “to keep selling stock to the public to keep it fueled. At a certain point, it does become self-fulfilling.”
Whether Twitter bots are being deliberately programmed to manipulate stock trading is among the questions that Kirsch and his research assistant, Moshen Chowdhury, are trying to answer.
Their inquiry comes as Musk has been signaling an intention to use his wealth and gigantic Twitter following to influence the platform’s future direction and policies. After buying nearly 10% of Twitter last month, Musk announced that he’d be joining the board, but Twitter revealed Monday that he’d changed his mind for unspecified reasons. Musk is a Twitter phenomenon, constantly posting tweets for his 80 million followers that range from standard to outrageous to juvenile to profane.
He settled fraud charges with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in 2018 for allegedly duping investors into believing he had a deal to take Tesla private when he didn’t. He’s now trying to nullify that agreement in the courts.
A Twitter bot is a fake account, programmed to scour the social media site for specific posts or news content — Musk’s posts, for example — and respond with relevant, preprogrammed tweets: “Tremendous long term growth prospects” or “Why Tesla stock is rallying today” or “Tesla’s Delivery Miss Was ‘Meaningless.'” The bots can also be programmed to send nasty or threatening messages to company critics.
Kirsch and Chowdhury collected and reviewed Tesla-related tweets from 2010, when the company went public, to the end of 2020.
Over that period, Tesla lost an accumulated $5.7 billion, even as its stock soared and Musk became one of the richest humans on the planet; his net worth is estimated at $275 billion. Operational results can’t justify anything close to the company’s $1-trillion market value, based on any kind of traditional stock-pricing metric.
Emails to Tesla and a Twitter message to Musk seeking comment for this story went unanswered.
Using a software program called Botometer that social media researchers use to distinguish bot accounts from human accounts, the pair found that a fifth of the volume of tweets about Tesla were bot-generated. That’s not out of line with giants like Amazon and Apple, but their bots tended to push the stock market and tech stocks in general, with those companies as leaders, but not focus on any particular narrative about the companies.
While any direct link between bot tweets and stock prices has yet to be determined, the researchers found enough “smoke” to keep their project going.
Over the 10-year study period, of about 1.4 million tweets from the top 400 accounts posting to the “cashtag” $TSLA, 10% were produced by bots. Of 157,000 tweets posted to the hashtag #TSLA, 23% were from bots, the research showed.
Kirsch and Chowdhury tracked 186 Tesla-related bot accounts and found that after each was launched, the company’s stock appreciated more than 2%. (They looked at the average stock return for the week previous to the bot’s creation and for the week following.) While Tesla’s market value has increased over the years, the price has seen dramatic ups and downs. The periods around bot creation showed sharp increases, but outside those windows, trading was far more volatile, Chowdhury said.
“This isn’t a causal relationship, but it does raise questions,” Kirsch said, about why there’s a correlation that does not appear to be random. “We’re trying to understand the mechanism. It can’t be just a bunch of tweets that push the stock. People have to notice them, interpret them and act on them.”
The researchers are looking at the timing of the tweets and options activity in the overnight stock market, among other factors. One big unknown: whether the bots are the work of entities with a direct financial interest in Tesla.
Twitter bots have been created on behalf of other companies, the researchers found, but the content tends to be what they called “generic” marketing messages.
Whatever the effect on stock prices, Kirsch said, the bot campaign represents a new form of corporate content distribution or, as he calls it, “computerized computational propaganda.”
“This computational content may have buffered the Tesla narrative from an emergent group of critics, relieved downward pressure on the Tesla stock price and amplified pro-Tesla sentiment from the time of the firm’s IPO in June 2010 to the end of 2020,” reads a paper that the researchers plan to present at the International Electric Vehicle Symposium in June in Oslo.
The paper calls Musk “a singular figure on Twitter,” with his 80 million followers. “It’s not clear if this strategy could be replicated by other firms,” the authors write.
If so, the legal and ethical questions will become more salient. Should firms that use bots have to disclose their use to the SEC or conform with lobbying disclosure rules?
Those are questions Kirsch believes regulators will need to consider as other firms see how Musk and Tesla have benefited from their bot following.
“It matters who stands in the public square and has a big megaphone they’re holding, and the juice they’re able to amplify their statements with,” he said.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.