Power Players

Elon Musk: 'Twitter's a war zone,' so 'let's go!'

SpaceX, Tesla and The Boring Company founder Elon Musk speaks at the 2018 SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition, in Hawthorne, California on July 22, 2018. 
Robyn Beck | AFP | Getty Images

Billionaire Tesla CEO Elon Musk defended his sometimes aggressive and controversial use of Twitter on Sunday's "60 Minutes" on CBS.

"Twitter's a war zone. If somebody's gonna jump in the war zone, it's, like, 'Okay, you're in the arena. Let's go!'" Musk told Leslie Stahl.

Stahl had specifically pointed out Musk's tendency to engage with reporters: "You kind of have little wars with the press," she said, referring to the fact that he has been dismissive of news outlets, as well as specific reporters on the platform.

Musk told Stahl that he uses Twitter as a way to share his feelings with his nearly 24 million followers.

"I use my tweets to express myself," Musk said. "Some people use their hair. I use Twitter."

One of the 47-year-old CEO's tweets has gotten Musk in real trouble. In August, he tweeted that he was considering taking Tesla private at $420 a share and that he had "funding secured." The next month, the Securities and Exchange Commission sued Musk for fraud based on the tweet. Musk settled with the SEC; he agreed to pay a $20 million fine (which is basically like paying a traffic ticket for the average American) and gave up his role as chairman of Tesla for at least three years.

Asked if he wants to buy plants that might be idled by GM, Musk nods: "It's possible that we would be interested if they were closing a plant or not use it—that we would take it over."

Musk told Stahl his tweets are not reviewed by Tesla before they are published.

"The only tweets that would have to be, say, reviewed would be if a tweet had a probability of causing a movement in the stock," Musk told Stahl.

"I mean otherwise it's, 'Hello, First Amendment.' Like freedom of speech is fundamental," the CEO said. (The First Amendment only applies to the government censoring or punishing free speech, not a private entity.)

Musk admits the system is not foolproof: "Well, I guess we might make some mistakes. Who knows?" he told Stahl. "Nobody's perfect."

Musk has also often used Twitter to respond to Tesla customers' questions and complaints.

For example, one potential Tesla customer took to Twitter to complain about a pushy sales representative at a Tesla store. Musk responded to say he had addressed the complaint. "Just sent a reminder to Tesla stores that we just want people to look forward to their next visit. That's what really matters," Musk said. 

Def not ok. Just sent a reminder to Tesla stores that we just want people to look forward to their next visit. That's what really matters.

See also:

Elon Musk says Tesla would consider buying idled GM plants, takes another swing at the SEC on '60 Minutes'

Elon Musk: Facebook 'gives me the willies'

Elon Musk may actually be making a website to rate journalists for credibility and 'core truth'

Elon Musk says Facebook 'gives me the willies'
Elon Musk says Facebook 'gives me the willies'

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This story has been revised.