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PR headache: 5 instances of Elon Musk's cringeworthy tweets

PR headache: 5 instances of Elon Musk's cringeworthy tweets

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Elon Musk has blazed news headlines for his "will-he-won't-he" drama with Twitter over the last couple of weeks, which most recently saw Musk offer to buy the social media company and Twitter mounting a defense to prevent Musk’s full takeover. According to Channel News Asia, Musk's proposed acquisition is for US$43 billion and he nearly joined Twitter's board of directors too but that plan eventually fell through.

The Tesla chief is known to be very active on Twitter, tweeting random thoughts and memes as well as updates about SpaceX and Tesla. More recently, he posted cryptic tweets such as "oh hi lol" and "Berlin rocks". He also reportedly deleted some tweets containing criticisms and jokes about Twitter recently, The Wall Street Journal said.

Musk is among the group of business leaders who are unabashedly vocal on social media regardless of the amount of buzz stirred up by their comments and opinions. This, of course, can be cringeworthy and pose a potential headache for PR professionals, who have little say over what their leaders do online but are still required to come to the rescue when there is a crisis.

With Musk having amused and at the same time confused netizens with his numerous tweets, the team at MARKETING-INTERACTIVE compiled a list of his tweets that can be deemed cringeworthy, and a headache for any PR professional on his team.

1. Culturally untactful comments

In the weeks following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Musk reposted a meme about Netflix waiting for the war to end so that it could make a documentary about a Black Ukrainian soldier and transgender Russian woman falling in love, which upon reading, does not really sit well with most audiences. Not only is this a jab at Netflix, but Musk's timing of the tweet was also seen as rather insensitive.

Musk’s endorsement of American rapper Kanye West’s presidential campaign also drew a lot of ire back in 2020, where the Tesla CEO endorsed his support for the rapper without knowing the full reason behind West’s campaign.

2. Polls and questions about how Twitter should change

In a recent filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Musk said he believes in Twitter’s “extraordinary potential” and that he will “unlock it". On 9 April, Musk tweeted about whether or not Twitter is dying, likely in alignment with his own personal views on how the company should be run.

Other times he has asked or run polls on Twitter have been to ask whether Twitter should adopt an open source algorithm, on whether or not the platform should adopt an edit button, and how Twitter should not waste its engineering resources on NFTs.

3. Resorting to lyricism and would-be poetry

One of Musk’s most recent tweets includes quoting a song by Elvis Presley, “Love Me Tender,” in what could possibly be aimed at Twitter, amidst the Musk-Twitter drama that has unfolded and blown up in recent weeks. Musk has also quoted other cryptically poetic lines, on his account, where his 82.4 million followers can only guess at what he could be referring to.

4. Birth and death rates

Musk brought up the topic of why the UN hasn’t released death rates in 2022 earlier this year, adding: “If you scare people enough, they will demand removal of freedom. This is the path to tyranny". He even replied to another tweet that had agreed with him, condemning governmental bodies for their mishandling of COVID-19.

Earlier he had also started a discussion on population collapse and declining fertility rates, where he also questions the UN’s methodologies and states that “if there aren’t enough people for Earth, then there definitely won’t be for Mars". Possibly building on this, he wrote on 3 April that he believes not having kids is the biggest problem.

5. Asking followers to determine the price of Tesla's shares

Last November, Musk launched a poll on his Twitter account, asking followers to determine the future of 10% of his Tesla holdings. In 2020, he had expressed that he believed Tesla’s stock prices to be too high and ended up losing 10% of its original value.

On 7 November, he posted the following: "Much is made lately of unrealised gains being a means of tax avoidance, so I propose selling 10% of my Tesla stock. Do you support this?" Musk added a poll function in the post, enabling users could to vote “Yes” or “No.”

He also followed up with wrote another post about the poll saying that he will abide by the results of the poll whichever way it goes. Musk also promised to respond in accordance to the result, in response to a "billionaires tax" proposed by US Democrats, but has not yet said anything publicly on the verdict. According to BBC, should he go ahead with the sale, he could be paying a huge tax bill.

Photo courtesy: 123RF

Related articles:
Twitter goes on the defensive to fend off Elon Musk's takeover bid
Elon Musk sued by ex-Twitter shareholders for failing to disclose stake in firm
Elon Musk asks Twitter followers to determine fate of his Tesla shares

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