Five times new Twitter boss Elon Musk caused a stir on the social media platform

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Elon Musk was recently announced as the new owner of Twitter after buying the social media site for a reported $44 billion (R704bn) (PHOTO: Getty/Gallo images)
Elon Musk was recently announced as the new owner of Twitter after buying the social media site for a reported $44 billion (R704bn) (PHOTO: Getty/Gallo images)

New Twitter boss Elon Musk has had the world talking since his successful purchase of the popular social media platform.

But it’s not the first time the eccentric founder of Tesla and SpaceX has been at the centre of controversy on the site. Here are five other instances of Elon causing a stir on the social media network.  

1. He offered his stalker $5 000

In November last year, Elon (50) was in the Twitter spotlight, but this time it wasn’t entirely his fault.

Jack Sweeney (19) from Florida in the US created an account with the sole purpose of tracking and tweeting the position of Elon's private jet. The drawn-out saga saw Elon going as far as offering $5 000 (then R80 000) to the teen for him to delete the account. Jack responded by requesting $50 000 (R800 000) or an internship.

The teenager eventually revealed that he’s actually a fan of Elon's SpaceX and even offered some advice to the billionaire for a program that could block a tracker, a piece of information Elon has since applied.

2. His war with Bill Gates

Just last week Elon was embroiled in a war of words with fellow tech billionaire Bill Gates.

Leaked WhatsApp screenshots reveal that the relationship between Bill (66) and Elon had crumbled, with the latter dismissing the Microsoft co-founder in the final text with, “Sorry, but I can't take your philanthropy on climate change seriously when you have a massive short position against Tesla, the company doing the most to solve climate change.”

A short position is a technique used when an investor anticipates that the value of a stock will decrease in the short term.

Elon confirmed on Twitter that the screenshots were authentic but insisted he was not the one who'd leaked them.

3. His 'full support' of Ye’s presidency

Rapper Kanye West, who legally changed his name to Ye last year, has done many strange things, but none was stranger than his 2020 bid for the US presidency. Amid the shock, things got even weirder when Elon took to Twitter to throw his full support behind Ye.

This triggered a social media frenzy and sent the pair to the top of trending lists. Whether either of them was serious remains anyone’s guess.

4. Referring to a British diver who helped saved kids as "pedo guy"

In 2018, 12 schoolboys were trapped in a cave in Thailand, prompting a high-stakes rescue mission that attracted global attention. Elon suggested sending a submarine to help with the rescue, but Vernon Unsworth – a diver who was part of that rescue team – slammed the minisub idea as a PR stunt in a television interview shortly after the successful rescue.

“Musk can stick his submarine where it hurts,” said Vernon in the interview shared on Twitter.

Elon took offence to the interview and in his response to the tweet, he referred to Unsworth as “pedo guy”, a response shared with his more than 20 million followers on Twitter.

Vernon sued Elon for defamation but the SpaceX founder won the case a year later. Elon and his lawyer argued that the term “pedo guy” was not meant to be taken literally and was a normal insult from his time in South Africa.

Elon deleted the tweet and issued an apology.

5. Not being South African

South Africans have always taken pride in Elon being born in Pretoria and ascending to the pinnacle of wealth as the richest person in the world.

Unfortunately, the feeling doesn’t seem to be mutual and Elon had Twitter – or at least South African Twitter – in a twist when he revealed that he doesn’t consider himself South African, but rather “American, but born in South Africa”. 

He was responding to a Twitter user who'd asked if he was American or South African.

Elon was born in Pretoria to a South African father and Canadian mother but left the country when he was 17 for Canada where he spent two years before immigrating to the United States.

As for his reasons: “I came to North America because I felt this was where there was opportunity to do great things in technology,” he said in a 2013 interview.


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