One day after Elon Musk announced he had bought more than 9 percent of Twitter, the company decided to appoint the world’s richest man — and most famous Twitter troll — to its board.
The move might make some business sense; Twitter shares surged on Tuesday morning, as they had when Musk announced his stake on Monday. But on another level, elevating Musk to a position of authority is quite an odd decision considering how severely he has used and abused the platform over the years.
The Tesla and SpaceX CEO has a long, long history of Twitter provocation, and picking the highlights (or lowlights) is a serious task. But here are five moments that stand out over the last few years.
Compared Justin Trudeau to Hitler
As Canadian truckers blockaded Ottawa this winter, Musk, who has been critical of pandemic restrictions and vaccine mandates (and who predicted that COVID would be no big deal), tweeted a hi-larious meme that compared the country’s prime minister to Adolf Hitler.
Musk deleted the post amid loud criticism.
Broke Federal Law by Threatening a Union Drive
In 2018, Musk tweeted that while workers could organize at Tesla, doing so would be inadvisable.
The National Labor Relations Boards ruled that the tweet, along with Tesla’s firing of a pro-union activist, broke labor laws because it implicitly threatened workers, and Musk was forced to delete it. This was just one of many instances in which he has blithely commented on his own company in consequential ways. (His enthusiasm for cryptocurrency and GameStop has also helped move markets.) Among other instances, there was the time he proclaimed that Tesla’s price was too high, sending its stock lower; the time he declared that a deal with Hertz wasn’t finished yet, which seemed to be news to Hertz, and the time he …
Committed Alleged Securities Fraud
In 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission accused Musk of securities fraud after he tweeted that he was thinking of taking Tesla private at $420 a share. (Get it??) The SEC called those tweets “false and misleading,” and the settlement forced Musk to step down as chairman of the company, though he remained CEO. Naturally, Musk, who has made his displeasure with the SEC clear, repeatedly violated the terms of the deal.
Accused a Semi-Random Person of Pedophilia
Perhaps Musk’s most ignominious moment on Twitter came in 2018, when he clashed with Vernon Unsworth, a cave diver who helped rescue a group of Thai boys and their soccer coach in a story that captivated the world’s attention. When Unsworth called Musk’s ineffective attempt to assist with the mission a “PR stunt,” Musk labeled him a “pedo guy” in a tweet, then called him a “child rapist” in an email to a reporter.
Repeatedly tried to be funny
Admittedly, Musk’s SNL-hosting appearance last year was surprisingly okay. But his attempts at humor on Twitter are often cringeworthy — even if that seems to be part of his appeal to some fans. Here he is faux-challenging Vladimir Putin to a duel for control of Ukraine:
Here is some brilliant wordplay:
And here’s an old classic:
Musk has committed some egregious sins on Twitter, but his attempts at comedy might be the worst of all.