To the delight of many of his Twitter followers, Tesla and SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk followed through on a promise Friday to delete the Facebook pages of both companies, flushing more than 5 million combined “likes” down the digital drain on a whim.
The Facebook pages for the automaker and aerospace innovator have been replaced by a default page noting that “content isn’t available right now.”
Musk apparently decided to take down the pages while responding to posts on Twitter, including one from Brian Acton, the co-founder of the Facebook-owned WhatsApp. Acton’s tweet included the hashtag #deletefacebook. That exchange led to a dare, as well as the revelation that Musk was unaware his aerospace company had a Facebook page.
It didn’t take long for Musk to go on to delete Tesla’s Facebook page, noting that the page “looks lame anyway.”
By deleting (or ordering someone else to do so) his company’s Facebook pages, Musk joined an online movement calling for Facebook users to sever their ties to the social media giant. The movement began with the revelation that Cambridge Analytica — a political marketing firm that worked with Donald Trump’s presidential campaign — improperly harvested the data of 50 million Facebook users, raising new questions about the network’s ability to protect user data.
SpaceX and Tesla have not disappeared from social media entirely. Accounts for both companies remain active on Instagram, which is owned by Facebook.
“Instagram’s probably ok imo, so long as it stays fairly independent,” Musk wrote on Twitter after calls for him to delete Tesla and SpaceX accounts on Instagram mounted Friday. “I don’t use FB & never have, so don’t think I’m some kind of martyr or my companies are taking a huge blow.”
“Also,” he added, “we don’t advertise or pay for endorsements, so … don’t care.”
Perhaps their relationship is dreamy behind closed doors, but Musk and Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg have had several public spats in recent years.
Zuckerberg expressed some frustration after a SpaceX rocket exploded on a Florida launchpad in 2016, destroying a satellite that Facebook was planning to use. “As I’m here in Africa, I’m deeply disappointed to hear that SpaceX’s launch failure destroyed our satellite that would have provided connectivity to so many entrepreneurs and everyone else across the continent,” Zuckerberg wrote on Facebook hours after the incident.
The following year, Musk said in a tweet that Zuckerberg’s understanding of the threat posed by artificial intelligence “is limited.”
The cutting tweet followed comments that Zuckerberg had made condemning “naysayers” who “drum up these doomsday scenarios.” Because Musk frequently warns about the threat posed by AI, many assumed Zuckerbuerg’s comments were aimed at Musk.