Elon Musk makes major confession in federal court over controversial tweet

If Elon Musk tweets it, is it true?

That’s more than a rhetorical question this week as Musk was defended in a San Francisco federal courtroom against a class action lawsuit alleging he deceived shareholders by tweeting that he received $420 in funding per share to take Tesla private.

When Bloomberg reported Monday, in his first minutes on the witness stand on Friday, the renowned entrepreneur and prolific Twitter user gave a remarkably humble assessment of his influence on the social media network he now owns: “Just because I’m tweeting about something, doesn’t mean people will believe it or act accordingly.”

However, to put this in proper historical context, Musk has publicly adopted the Latin expression “vox populi, vox dei” since becoming the owner of Twitter.

He first used the phrase — meaning “the voice of the people is the voice of God” — when he asked Twitter users about reinstating former President Donald Trump on the platform. At the end of a timed Twitter poll, Musk tweeted“The people have spoken. Trump is reinstated. Vox Populi, Vox Dei.”

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If the voice of Everyone People drive the results on Twitter, the voice of the platform’s owner would be as significant as the voice of a major Twitter influencer, including an active user who runs the world’s dominant electric car company.

These logical disconnects have the potential to really hurt Musk in the process. When Musk tweets, people listen.

By the way, part of the reason people believe what they read on Twitter is because they often don’t actually read it. As 2018 MIT to learn pointed out that “in all categories of information, untruth is being spread much farther, faster, deeper and more widely than truth, and in many cases by an order of magnitude.”

In other words, we believe what is written and referenced on Twitter in that we often share it with others through retweets, quote tweets, and likes, even if we haven’t read the content. That should be a little scary, especially given that the results of this study would be amplified today compared to 2018.

Did Musk deceive Tesla shareholders?

Part of Musk’s defense at his trial is that his tweets were simply a form of shorthand – essentially recordings of current sensations. This is not tenable in a court of law because if it is so, no statement we make publicly on any social media platform can ever be used as evidence. The reality in 2023 is that what we tweet carries equal weight with what we say or communicate in other, more traditional forms. For us to tweet something and say we didn’t mean it is getting way too far fetched.

Any hope Musk had of distancing himself from the tweet in question faded Monday afternoon when he made this admission in court:

It would be surprising if Musk hadn’t received solid advice from his attorneys Monday night to settle this case.

As a lawyer Tim George emphasizes: “It will be difficult for a jury to accept that a high-profile CEO intentionally tweeted important business information but did not believe that people would rely on what was expressed in the tweet.”

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This is particularly important given the context that the judge presiding over the case, US District Judge Edward Chen, provided to the jury on Friday. Chen instructed the jury that they could consider the facts of Musk’s tweets to be false and that it was up to them to determine whether those false tweets were an attempt by Musk to mislead investors.

It’s important to remember that the SEC has already sanctioned Musk for the tweets in question. In 2018, he was fined $40 million and forced to resign as Tesla chairman.

While this settlement has no bearing as precedent in this shareholder class action, logic should dictate that Musk and his attorney have no reason to expect a better outcome unless they have compelling evidence that the August 2018 tweets were the Didn’t harm Tesla shareholders in court hearing.

The views expressed in this opinion article are those of their author and are not necessarily shared or endorsed by the owners of this website. If you are interested in contributing an op-ed for The Western Journal, you can learn more about our submission guidelines and process here.

Aron Solomon, JD, a Pulitzer Prize-nominated writer, is the lead legal analyst for Esquire Digital and 24-7 Abogados. He has taught entrepreneurship at McGill University and the University of Pennsylvania and was included in Fastcase 50, which recognizes the top 50 legal innovators in the world. Solomon has been featured on Forbes, CBS News, CNBC, USA Today, ESPN, TechCrunch, The Hill, BuzzFeed, Fortune, Venture Beat, The Independent, Fortune China, Yahoo, ABA Journal, Law.com, The Boston Globe, NewsBreak and many other leading publications.

https://www.westernjournal.com/solomon-elon-musk-makes-big-admission-controversial-tweet-federal-court/ Elon Musk makes major confession in federal court over controversial tweet

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