Elon Musk deletes tweets critical of Twitter after weekend barrage

Key Points
  • Tesla CEO Elon Musk appears to have deleted a series of weekend tweets criticizing Twitter.
  • Musk, who is Twitter's largest shareholder, also liked a tweet that said, "Elon was told to play nice and not speak freely."
  • The social media company announced Sunday that Musk has abandoned his plans to join the company's board.

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Elon Musk decides not to join Twitter's board of directors
Elon Musk decides not to join Twitter's board of directors

Elon Musk went on a tweetstorm over the weekend, lobbing numerous critiques of Twitter. But the Tesla and SpaceX CEO appears to have deleted several of his spiciest takes, as he's dropped his plan to join the social media company's board.

Musk's tweets included suggestions on how to transform Twitter and its products. On Saturday, he asked his roughly 81 million Twitter followers to vote on whether the company should turn its San Francisco headquarters into a homeless shelter.

In a second since-deleted tweet, Musk suggested Twitter Blue subscribers should be allowed to pay with dogecoin, get an "authentication checkmark" and keep the offering free of advertisements.

"Everyone who signs up for Twitter Blue (ie pays $3/month) should get an authentication checkmark," Musk wrote. "And no ads. The power of corporations to dictate policy is greatly enhanced if Twitter depends on advertising money to survive."

Musk posted a separate poll, which has since been deleted, asking people to vote on whether Twitter should drop the "w" from its name.

It's unclear why the tweets were deleted, and he didn't respond to a request for comment. A Twitter spokesperson declined to comment.

Even before disclosing a 9% stake in the company last week and then briefly agreeing to join its board, the Tesla CEO has had a long and complicated relationship with Twitter as a communications tool.

In 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged Musk with making "false and misleading" statements to investors when he announced via Twitter that he'd secured funding to take Tesla private at $420 a share. Musk and Tesla eventually agreed to a settlement with the government that was later revised.

Elon Musk declines Twitter board seat
Elon Musk declines Twitter board seat

Under the arrangement, Musk and Tesla each had to pay $20 million in fines to the SEC. Additionally, Musk could no longer be chairman of Tesla, and he had to have tweets containing material business information vetted before they could be published. Musk and his brother, Kimbal, a fellow Tesla and SpaceX board member, also are being investigated by the SEC over their tweets and trading.

The latest spectacle began on April 4, when Musk disclosed his Twitter stake in an SEC filing. To the surprise of investors, he'd suddenly become the company's largest shareholder. The stock jumped 27% on the news.

The next day, Twitter announced that Musk would be joining Twitter's board.

But that agreement quickly unraveled. Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal tweeted Sunday night that Musk informed the company over the weekend that he would not be a board member after all.

"There will be distractions ahead, but our goals and priorities remain unchanged," Agrawal wrote.

Now off the board, Musk is no longer limited to owning just 14.9% of the company, which had been part of the agreement. That has started analysts to speculate whether Musk will bolster his stake in Twitter and potentially pursue a hostile takeover.

A person in a mask approaches the New York Twitter offices after they announced they will close their re-opened offices effective immediately in response to updated CDC guidelines during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., July 29, 2021.
Andrew Kelly | Reuters

As for deleting tweets, it's an action that Musk has taken in the past.

Earlier this year, he deleted an offensive meme that compared Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to genocidal dictator Adolf Hitler. And in 2018, he took down a racy tweet that included a photo of Miley Cyrus twerking on stage at a music awards show, alongside the comment, "They grow up so quickly."

The recent deletions are different because the tweets pertained directly to a company that Musk had just backed to the tune of billions of dollars.

Still, some of his controversial comments remain on the site. For example, Musk didn't delete one of his weekend tweets asking if Twitter is "dying." In the post, he pointed out that some of Twitter's most popular users, including Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber, rarely tweet.

On Monday, he also liked a tweet that said, "Let me break this down for you: Elon became largest shareholder for Free Speech. Elon was told to play nice and not speak freely."

Meanwhile, Musk is fighting a legal battle to keep alive a 4-year-old tweet. In 2021, the National Labor Relations Board ordered Tesla to make Musk delete a 2018 tweet that was seen as threatening to labor organizers within the company.

The tweet read, "Nothing stopping Tesla team at our car plant from voting union. Could do so tmrw if they wanted. But why pay union dues & give up stock options for nothing?"

Tesla has appealed the administrative court's decision.

WATCH: Elon Musk still wants to influence change at Twitter, says Loup's Gene Munster

Elon Musk still wants to influence change at Twitter, says Loup's Gene Munster
Elon Musk still wants to influence change at Twitter, says Loup's Gene Munster