For billions of individuals across the globe, 2020 was a horrendous 12 months. Alongside a staggering lack of life, there are the companies that scaled again or shuttered, the creators who both tailored or gave up their desires, and the people who had been beset with unemployment and associated monetary hardships.
For Elon Musk, the electrical automobile and area tycoon, none of this utilized. Inventory for his EV firm Tesla skyrocketed (it’s now the most valuable automaker in the world, and after months of waiting the corporate formally joined the S&P 500 on Monday), making him so rich he’s now included in Senator Bernie Sanders’s criticisms of the one percent, whereas SpaceX captured the creativeness of the homebound lots by kicking off a new era of American space travel. Musk’s cultural affect has grown in lockstep with these accomplishments, as he’s now one of many prime 50 most adopted folks on Twitter, sitting someplace between Harry Kinds and Oprah.
He presently boasts greater than 41 million Twitter followers, which is 10.6 million greater than when the ball dropped final December 31. That feat could lead you to the conclusion that the billionaire is “good at Twitter.” He’s definitely adept at trending on the social media platform and creating headlines out of 280 characters, with stories earlier this 12 months even suggesting he scrapped Tesla’s PR department in favor of Twitter press releases à la President Trump. However as we glance again on the timeline of 2020, regardless of all the nice Elon Musk has finished within the discipline of EVs, area exploration and renewable vitality (and even partially within the distribution of medical equipment — fields I personally have commended him for), he’s unequivocally one of many worst folks on Twitter.
Sure, Elon Musk is “good at Twitter” in that he posts memes that get a whole bunch of hundreds of retweets and songs that climb to the highest of the Soundcloud charts. He often interacts along with his followers, chats about design specifics of satellites and the Mannequin 3, and sends out requests for job purposes, all of which is inextricably linked to the cult and success of his many corporations. He’s additionally “good at Twitter” in that he spews misinformation underneath the guise of maverick experience in a method that — greater than another titan of business along with his affect — will increase engagement, amplifies his message and causes incontrovertible hurt.
In the course of the pandemic, he regularly posted false and deceptive details about COVID-19, medical therapies and public well being measures, in addition to fomented animosity in opposition to medical professionals and politicians who appeared to stem the unfold of the coronavirus. And regardless of being proven wrong by infinite specialists and research, he has but to difficulty retractions or apologies, and even delete the worst of his tweets.
The issue is that Musk — in a scenario akin to the Dunning-Kruger effect, which is, paradoxically, one thing he tweeted about — believes himself to be an knowledgeable in areas the place he isn’t. He’s a number one thoughts in electrical autos, area exploration, engineering and entrepreneurship, not in medical, epidemiological or political fields. And whereas is an knowledgeable Twitter person, he appears blithely unaware of the social ramifications of his more and more harmful tweets.
However the Twitter timeline scrolls on, headlines get buried and pushed into the latter pages of Google, and there aren’t any repercussions. In an try and illustrate the overwhelming hurt that has been finished by Elon Musk this 12 months, we’ve extracted his 69 worst tweets (a puerile reference he’s fairly keen on), beginning with the trivially unhealthy and shifting to the legitimately dangerous.
Right here’s hoping he finds the braveness to take his own advice subsequent 12 months.
The Drained 69 and 4/20 Jokes
We start with plenty of intercourse, flatulence and weed jokes applicable for the again of a center faculty bus. The one redeeming factor in regards to the “69 days after 4/20” tweet is that Musk’s actual birthday is that date — June 28. Possibly somebody with astrological experience can supply some perception there.
This meme is an ideal summation of Musk’s infantile incapability to simply accept duty for his most severe Twitter transgressions, specifically calling one of many cave divers who rescued a soccer group in Thailand in 2018 a “pedo guy” and running afoul of the S.E.C. in 2019.
The Petulant Billionaire
Musk has beforehand tweeted his love for the satirical outlet The Onion, however after they made enjoyable of him, he resorted to calling them socialists. “Rose” is a reference to the Democratic Socialists of America and the group’s use of the rose image, together with the rose emoji.
He began his battle on pronouns in July …
… and then not too long ago took it up once more. If you happen to don’t fairly perceive this meme, Musk is principally ridiculing individuals who embody pronouns of their social media account bios, which primarily means folks with gender identities that differ from those assigned at start. However he appears to be singling out cisgender males who put “he/him” in an try and normalize the apply and stand in solidarity with transgender folks and different gender-nonconforming folks.
As a substitute of apologizing, the man who named his baby X Æ A-12 known as pronouns an “esthetic nightmare” and then tweeted a protection akin to “however I’ve homosexual buddies,” to which Human Rights Marketing campaign President Alphonso David said, “Elon Musk’s tweet mocking pronouns is precisely the other of what inclusive management seems like as we speak.”
In March, simply because the pandemic was climbing towards its first peak, Musk rapidly declared himself as a skeptic of the severity of COVID-19 … then, after all, acquired mad when somebody known as him a “virus skeptic.”
After getting taken to process for his horrible pandemic opinions, Musk made it clear that he’s not a businessman (or a medical skilled), simply an engineer.
After getting in an argument with an precise physician on Twitter — a virologist on the Georgetown Heart for World Well being Science and Safety, no much less — he cherrypicked information (a favourite tactic of his) … information that’s now trending within the mistaken path.
Hey Elon, here’s one.
After all, when Musk is the goal of criticism on-line — normally for spreading misinformation just like the above — he’s fast to invoke the identical guidelines of decency that he routinely flouts …
In Might, Alameda County and Tesla had been working on a plan to reopen the latter’s factory in California. Musk was extra involved with restarting manufacturing than following public well being protocols, so he lashed out at Dr. Erica Pan, who’s now the California State Epidemiologist.
The Crimson Capsule Conspiracy Theorist
A reference to The Matrix, this phrase has grow to be a favourite of males’s rights activists, alt-right followers and comparable fringe teams.
His concept of profitable reporting: likes and retweets.
Right here he’s defending a former New York Occasions reporter (emphasis on former) who’s attempting to journey the coattails of COVID trutherism to fame:
One other favourite tactic of Musk in legitimizing his opinions is to quote Wikipedia or just paste hyperlinks to Wikipedia. Right here he reveals his enthusiasm for the all-knowing, all-seeing web god.
Don’t give him good press? Then you definately get burned.
The Pandemic Misinformation, Half 1
Among the many a whole bunch of coronavirus tweets Musk printed this 12 months, probably the most outstanding themes he latched onto was the concept COVID-19 demise counts had been inflated. Sure, labeling deaths accurately is essential, as is knowing the small print of comorbidity, however the function of the beneath tweet appears to be, as evidenced by his flippancy, to downplay the severity of the pandemic. The shortage of respect in discussing COVID deaths is appalling, and the conspiracy theories these arguments fueled are still flourishing.
He additionally tweeted out a picture that stated “OCCUPY MARS” with a photograph of the moon. When known as out by Neil deGrasse Tyson, Musk supplied a glimpse into his thought course of earlier than tweeting, which ought to be a footnote to each COVID-related outburst.
As we’ll see, Musk was a giant fan of taking articles out of context and apparently not studying them earlier than tweeting them …
Apologies to the late, nice Frank Herbert:
As we’ve seen with different standard Twitter customers, advocating for the usage of medication that haven’t but been completely studied can be by no means a good suggestion:
Once more, he establishes “Wikipedia-level knowledgeable” as a baseline for ample medical data. This isn’t somebody you need to take medical recommendation from.
The very subsequent sentence within the beneath story, the one not included within the Tesla fanboy’s tweet or acknowledged by Musk?
“[USC Professor Neeraj] Sood stated it was too early to supply coverage prescriptions primarily based on the early outcomes, noting that additional research will present extra details about the mortality charge and how briskly the illness is spreading.”
The one factor James O’Keefe — of far-right fairy story Challenge Veritas — is sweet at is taking info out of context and monitoring down unreliable sources. Naturally, Musk thought he was horse to again:
In attempting to show the overreaction to the coronavirus, he really demonstrated the effectiveness of California’s early pandemic response:
Sweden’s comparatively lax response to the pandemic — no lockdowns, voluntary measures — was championed by COVID skeptics like Musk. We all know now how that turned out.
And whereas we nonetheless don’t know precisely how COVID impacts folks of various ages — we positive as hell didn’t know on … March 19. That didn’t cease Musk from providing his take:
The Fake Patriotism
The quasi-socialist-turned-libertarian billionaire additionally loves to talk for the political middle.
I feel we will all agree this subsequent one was a mistake.
Even he appeared to suppose so, although he did eventually delete his retraction.
One other subplot this 12 months for Musk has been his battle with Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates for the title of world’s second and third richest particular person, beneath Jeff Bezos. However what does Musk do when confronted with the prospect of shedding a bit of his $100-billion-plus web price? Chortle at Senator Sanders, whose Twitter account was fast to level out the government subsidies Musk’s corporations have benefited from.
Have small companies been receiving sufficient monetary aid throughout the pandemic? No. Did anybody, anyplace want so-called press conferences from the founding father of a media firm for man-children? Additionally no. And Barstool Sports activities’ Dave Portnoy really already ran for workplace — he simply couldn’t get sufficient signatures to get on the ballot.
No, the scariest factor is witnessing the demise of 1.7 million folks and counting.
This juvenile patriotic posturing — equating the foundational battle of the USA in opposition to the British with the misguided hostility towards pandemic lockdowns — has been proven to be more destructive than anyone could have imagined.
The tweet Musk is responding to right here is from an nameless person who on the time advocated a “name to arms” and is presently retweeting posts in regards to the election being rigged.
To reiterate from above, as a way to be assured in Tesla’s potential to open its Fremont manufacturing unit in a method that was secure for the workers, Alameda County was working with the corporate to restart the plant on May 18. As a substitute, simply seven days earlier than that date, Musk threw a match and framed it as a martyrdom.
The Pandemic Misinformation, Half 2
And … Sweden is at 100 deaths on December 18.
Because the Washington Post notes, the “good factors” made by “medical doctors” on this YouTube video turned out to be COVID-19 misinformation. As such, it was swiftly eliminated by the platform for violating pointers.
Extra on this later …
Two of his first tweets about COVID-19 in contrast the coronavirus to the frequent chilly, a misconception that’s nonetheless being subtle to this present day.
After evaluating it to the frequent chilly, he went on to agree with a random Twitter person who cited “outdated girls” as knowledgeable authorities on the truth that “extra folks die of the flu,” one other falsity that unfold over social media and is being handled to this present day.
For all his supposed Wikipedia acumen, Musk apparently didn’t take the time to Google the variations between COVID testing choices. As a substitute, he determined to sow doubt about your entire course of. No less than it led to the resurgence of Space Karen.
The origin of that “one thing bogus is occurring” line?
Bear in mind when he stated, “Many articles are retweeted primarily based on headlines that don’t match the content material”? Working example: This deceptive headline on a put up from Ben Shapiro’s right-wing weblog, which Musk agreed with. What professor John P.A. Ioannidis really stated wasn’t that we had been severely overreacting, however that we may have been overreacting. After 9 months, it’s clear that we weren’t.
Trying again at among the science he touted is just a little cathartic, particularly when it’s so typically disproven, eliminated for misinformation (as with the earlier YouTube video) or on this case withdrawn.
With a purpose to show his concept that individuals had been overreacting to COVID-19, Musk solicited info requests from … Nate Silver?
The beneath is much like the Every day Wire tweet, however this time Musk explicitly takes info out of context. So a lot of of Musk’s pandemic tweets, much more than the handfuls listed right here, are intentionally deceptive, cherry-picked to swimsuit the alternate actuality that cemented in his thoughts months in the past. Right here, he steps into the realm of disinformation. Sure, he’s quoting straight from the article, however he additionally is aware of his followers gained’t learn it, will solely learn his curated tweet, and will miss the tip of his quoted part, which finishes like so: “… whereas 88 per cent of sufferers who’ve died have at the least one pre-morbidity – many had two or three.”
The Worst of the Worst
What occurs when folks like Elon Musk, Laura Ingraham and President Trump champion anti-malaria medication as COVID therapies in opposition to the suggestions of execs? At finest, they flip their supporters in opposition to the medical specialists. At worst, these supporters take issues into their very own arms and find yourself sick or dead.
There’s a sure type of literalist who would agree with Musk on this, that panic in any kind is dumb, and that being calm and collected is at all times a greater plan of action. However Musk isn’t saying, “Let’s keep calm.” The subtext of this tweet, as we’ve come to grasp from his subsequent litany, is that anybody who takes COVID-19 critically is dumb.
This could be comical if the truth weren’t insufferable. On the final day of April, greater than 30,000 new circumstances had been reported within the U.S., together with greater than 2,000 new deaths. Because it stands as we speak, some 18 million circumstances and 323,000 deaths have been reported within the nation, and that’s not stopping anytime quickly.
That’s April 2020 he’s referencing, to be clear.
Sure, free America … from Elon Musk’s tweets.