December 3, 2019 / 11:17 AM / 7 months ago

Factbox: Elon Musk's tweets bring controversy, nearly 30 million followers

(Reuters) - British cave explorer Vernon Unsworth is suing Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk for defamation over three tweets on July 15, 2018, including one in which Musk allegedly branded him a pedophile, calling him “pedo guy.”

FILE PHOTO: SpaceX owner and Tesla CEO Elon Musk arrives on the red carpet for the automobile awards "Das Goldene Lenkrad" (The golden steering wheel) given by a German newspaper in Berlin, Germany, November 12, 2019. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke/File Photo

The tweets came after Musk offered a mini-submarine to help Unsworth and others rescue a boys’ soccer team from a flooded Thailand cave. Unsworth described the offer as a “PR stunt.”

Musk is a prolific and often controversial tweeter. He has 29.8 million Twitter followers, and some tweets have gotten him into trouble with regulators.

He is a sampling of Musk’s tweets.

- Feb. 19, 2019: “Tesla made 0 cars in 2011, but will make around 500k in 2019.” The tweet reopened a fight with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission over how Tesla disclosed material information.

- Aug. 7, 2018: “Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.” Musk was not close to taking Tesla private and had not lined up financing. Tesla shares jumped, and the SEC sued Musk, saying he misled investors. Musk settled, agreeing to have company lawyers pre-approve written communications with material information.

- July 15, 2018: “Sorry pedo guy, you really did ask for it.” The tweet that led to the defamation lawsuit by Unsworth.

- June 17, 2018: “They have about three weeks before their short position explodes.” Musk often uses Twitter to attack short-sellers in Tesla’s stock.

- April 1, 2018: “Despite intense efforts to raise money, including a last-ditch mass sale of Easter Eggs, we are sad to report that Tesla has gone completely and totally bankrupt.” A day after the April Fool’s Day prank, Tesla’s share price fell 5.1 percent.

- Jan. 27, 2018: “When the zombie apocalypse happens, you’ll be glad you bought a flamethrower. Works against hordes of the undead or your money back!” Musk’s Boring Co sold flamethrowers and hats to raise funds for its hyperloop transportation project.

- July 25, 2017: “I’ve talked to Mark about this. His understanding of the subject is limited.” Musk was targeting Facebook Inc Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, who downplayed Musk’s warnings about the danger of artificial intelligence.

- March 12, 2015: “The rumor that I’m building a spaceship to get back to my home planet Mars is totally untrue” Musk has said he wanted his company SpaceX to develop a rocket capable of an unpiloted trip to Mars in 2022, with a crewed flight two years later.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel Additional reporting by Noeleen Walder; Editing by Peter Henderson and Cynthia Osterman

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