I think it’s safe to say that things haven’t quite gone according to plan for the South African-born billionaire as rattled advertisers express concern about the future of the app and celebrities quit the platform.
Noah then pointed out that Musk had arrived advocating for fun and free speech on Twitter before he turned around and banned a handful of users who had changed their Twitter handles to Elon Musk parodies.
“What’s happening with Elon Musk is a wonderful microcosm to show you how quickly people will abandon what they say is a principle when things aren’t going their way. Everyone thinks jokes are fun until jokes are about them.”
Musk has gone from a media darling to a villain in next to no time. It wasn’t that long ago that he was viewed as somewhat of a celebrity magnet, frequently drawing adulation from the who’s who of Hollywood.
Just this May he was the darling of the Met Gala, which he attended with his mom, Maye Musk.
At the gala, Musk was pictured chatting away with the likes of former power couple Kim Kardashian and Pete Davidson. Kim’s mom, Kris Jenner, even took a moment to spruce up Musk’s skew bow tie on the red carpet.
In the past, even fellow celebrity billionaire entrepreneurs like Richard Branson, Larry Ellison, Mark Cuban, Donald Trump and Bill Gates have all heaped praise on the Tesla and SpaceX CEO. Cuban and Trump have gone so far as to refer to him as a true genius, with Trump adding that he had to be protected at all costs.
“Breaking Bad” star Aaron Paul called him, “probably the most important entrepreneur on the planet”.
Other celebrities to fawn over him (or his work with Tesla and SpaceX) include Jaden Smith, Joe Rogan, Cedric The Entertainer, Just Blaze and Tyler Case.
Musk has also embraced his celebrity by dating some gorgeous actresses, like Talulah Riley, whom he twice married and divorced, and Amber Heard, who he briefly dated in 2017.
What’s more, tons of popular rap songs make mention of and use the maverick entrepreneur’s successful business exploits as punchlines.
Lil Uzi Vert and Pharrell’s 2017 hit single, “Neon Guts”, which is a celebration of the high life, references Musk in its catchy chorus: “Higher than Elon Musk, so high stars eat our dust, and I got a colorful aura like I got neon guts.”
Even South Africa’s very own rap star Da LES has a summer anthem with Focalistic titled “Elon Musk”.
Now, in the wake of his shaky Twitter takeover, celebrities don’t seem to like him so much. There’s been a mass celebrity exodus on the platform over the past few weeks as many fear that Musk’s absolutist approach to free speech will make the platform a hotbed of hate speech.
In the days following Musk’s arrival at Twitter, multi-Grammy award-winning singer Toni Braxton tweeted: “I’m shocked and appalled at some of the ‘free speech’ I’ve seen on this platform since its acquisition. Hate speech under the veil of ‘free speech’ is unacceptable; therefore I am choosing to stay off Twitter as it is no longer a safe space for myself, my sons and other POC.”
Media personality Whoopi Goldberg took a similar stance when she took to ABC’s “The View” to explain that she’s done with Twitter.
“I’m going to get out, and if it settles down and I feel more comfortable, maybe I’ll come back.”
Elsewhere, filmmaker Shonda Rhimes tweeted: “Not hanging around for whatever Elon has planned. Bye.”
Model and TV personality Gigi Hadid has also quit the embattled social media platform.
“Deactivated my Twitter account today,” she posted on her Instagram Stories. “For a long time, but especially with its new leadership, it’s becoming more and more of a cesspool of hate and bigotry, and it’s not a place I want to be a part of.”
Other public figures have bemoaned Musk’s proposal to make everyone pay for the blue “verification” badge that has thus far been used to let people know that an account of public interest is authentic.
In light of this proposal, best-selling author Stephen King threatened to leave the social media platform, too, after tweeting: “$20 a month to keep my blue check? F*** that, they should pay me. If that gets instituted, I’m gone like Enron.”
Musk responded: “We need to pay the bills somehow! Twitter cannot rely entirely on advertisers. How about $8?”
Musk followed that tweet up by adding, “I will explain the rationale in longer form before this is implemented. It is the only way to defeat the bots & trolls.”
He’d explained this rationale on Wednesday during a Twitter Space with advertisers.
During the Space, he admitted it might be a dumb decision, but argued that charging users for verification will make it too expensive for trolls to make fake accounts.
He also justified the move by explaining how philosophically he didn’t like the principle of the “lords-and-peasants situation” that he believe came from the current verification system.
In the midst of all this upheaval, Twitter on Wednesday, unveiled a new grey “official” label for some high-profile accounts before Musk reversed it within hours.
“I just killed it,” he tweeted shortly after. He said later: “Please note that Twitter will do lots of dumb things in coming months. We will keep what works and change what doesn’t.”
Sounds to me like the former Pretoria Boys High student is just winging it at this point.
Once a media darling that celebrities fawned over, Musk’s public struggles to revamp the influential platform have turned him into the anti-hero that’s driving celebrities off Twitter at a frightening pace. What a turn of events!