Our story curiously combines Facebook, comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, and Tesla founder Elon Musk.
It is fashionable for billionaires (the ones not named Zuckerberg, at least) to go after Facebook in public missives these days. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff declared Facebook “the new cigarettes” last October, CNet tells us that George Soros went railing against the social network at the recent Davos conference, and even high-ranking former Facebook execs have rained criticism upon the social network for the directions it taken since the site made them billionaires. The latest billionaire with a bee up his ass toward Facebook is cult-of-personality tech entrepreneur Elon Musk, whom CNN reports on Saturday tweeted, “#DeleteFacebook It’s lame.”
Sure, there’s not much to unpack in Musk’s tweet. The more thought-provoking tweet is Borat star Sacha Baron Cohen’s parent tweet, accompanied with a pretty sweet Photoshop graphic, that posited “Why do we let 1 man control the information seen by 2.5 billion people? Facebook needs to be regulated by governments, not ruled by an emperor!” Baron Cohen has been on a Twitter vendetta over the last month over Facebook’s welcoming attitude toward political ads with blatant falsehoods, the site's role in spreading Holocaust denial, and Zuckerberg’s established pattern of licking Trump’s boots. The comic also criticized YouTube’s past stances on hate speech, and has not otherwise done a normal show business tweet since promoting his Netflix film The Spy on December 9.
Outrageous. This is Facebook’s idea of change? #MarkZuckerberg, you STILL take politicians’ money, STILL refuse to fact check their ads and STILL microtarget their lies to your +2 billion users. Mark, the demagogues of the world thank you!https://t.co/YbblXHC8LQ— Sacha Baron Cohen (@SachaBaronCohen) January 9, 2020
For what it’s worth, Facebook did not return comment when CNN asked them about Elon Musk’s tweet calling them “lame.”
Musk has been intentionally dismissive of Facebook in the past, publicly deleting Tesla and SpaceX’s Facebook accounts when the Cambridge Analytica scandal made headlines. The Musketeer also tweeted in 2017 that “I've talked to Mark about [artificial intelligence]. His understanding of the subject is limited.” The spat may have something to do with a failed 2016 SpaceX rocket launch that blew up a Facebook satellite, prompting Zuckerberg to namecheck SpaceX negatively in a post saying “I'm deeply disappointed to hear that SpaceX's launch failure destroyed our satellite,” which is as close to sincere-sounding as Zuckerberg ever gets.
Musk’s tweets have tanked stocks before, but not so in this case. Facebook shares dropped nearly a dollar in early day trading, but made that dollar up and are now trading slightly higher than when Musk called the company lame.
Image: Duncan Hull via Wikimedia Commons