Less than two months after resolving a legal dispute with federal regulators, Elon Musk announced Monday that he’d deleted his Twitter account after his tweets generated a new controversy.
The chief executive of Tesla and SpaceX, known for his off-the-cuff comments, affinity for sharing odd memes and a few missives that landed him in legal jeopardy, caught flak for refusing to credit an artist after posting her work on the platform.
In a series of tweets that have been deleted, according to Kotaku — which published screenshots of the messages — Musk posted an uncredited image of fan artwork over the weekend of the video game “Nier: Automata.” When a Twitter user urged Musk to credit the artist, he replied “no,” and added, “I wish people would stop crediting artists on Twitter when any fool can find out who the artist was in seconds.”
The woman who created the artwork, Meli Megali, a self-described 2-D artist and game designer, later posted a series of tweets of her own, responding to Musk and the many Twitter users who’d reached out to her in support. “My account explodes. JUSTE THANKS A LOT ALL for protecting my art and for notifying me (Ps: Elon you’re not cool for haven’t credited me),” she wrote.
Musk did not immediately respond to a request for comment through Tesla.
After midnight on Monday, Musk tweeted, “Just deleted my Twitter account.” As of Monday evening, however, his account was still active.
Musk recently reached a settlement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which had accused him of breaching a prior agreement that required Musk to get preapproval for his often strange and occasionally market-moving tweets.
The underlying conflict began in September, after federal regulators accused him of misleading investors by telling his millions of Twitter followers that he had “funding secured” to take his electric car company private. Musk and the SEC eventually settled, with the CEO agreeing to pay a $20 million fine, step down as chairman of Tesla, and secure a lawyer’s approval before tweeting about Tesla.
In February, the SEC asked a federal judge to hold Musk in contempt, alleging he violated the terms of the agreement for blasting out a misleading tweet about Tesla’s production numbers. Musk and the SEC resolved the latest dispute in April, avoiding a potential crisis for the $38 billion electric car company, and removing some uncertainty about Musk’s leadership there.