December 3, 2019 / 11:10 AM / 4 days ago

Elon Musk's tweets bring controversy, nearly 30 million followers

(Reuters) - Trial began in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Tuesday in a defamation lawsuit brought against Elon Musk by British cave diver Vernon Unsworth over three July 15, 2018 tweets by the Tesla chief executive, one calling him “pedo guy.”

Musk’s tweets were apparently in response to Unsworth calling his offer of a mini-submarine to help in the rescue of a boys’ soccer team from a flooded Thailand cave a “PR stunt.”

Musk, who has 29.8 million Twitter followers, is a prolific and often controversial tweeter, and some of his posts have gotten him into trouble with regulators.

He is a sampling of Musk’s more inflammatory tweets.

* Feb. 19, 2019: “Tesla made 0 cars in 2011, but will make around 500k in 2019.” The tweet reopened a fight with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission over how Tesla disclosed material information.

* Aug. 7, 2018: “Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.” Musk was not close to taking Tesla private and had not lined up financing. Tesla shares jumped, and the SEC sued Musk, saying he had misled investors. Musk settled, agreeing to have company lawyers pre-approve written communications with material information.

* July 15, 2018: “Sorry pedo guy, you really did ask for it.” The tweet that prompted Unsworth to file a defamation lawsuit.

* June 17, 2018: “They have about three weeks before their short position explodes.” A tweet by Musk about short-sellers in Tesla’s stock.

*April 1, 2018: “Despite intense efforts to raise money, including a last-ditch mass sale of Easter Eggs, we are sad to report that Tesla has gone completely and totally bankrupt,” Musk said in an April Fool’s day tweet. The following day, Tesla’s share price fell 5.1 percent.

*Jan. 27, 2018: “When the zombie apocalypse happens, you’ll be glad you bought a flamethrower. Works against hordes of the undead or your money back!” Musk’s Boring Co. sold flamethrowers and hats to raise funds for its hyperloop transportation project.

*July 25, 2017: “I’ve talked to Mark about this. His understanding of the subject is limited.” Musk was targeting Facebook Inc Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, who downplayed Musk’s warnings about the danger of artificial intelligence.

*March 12, 2015: “The rumor that I’m building a spaceship to get back to my home planet Mars is totally untrue” Musk has said he wanted his company SpaceX to develop a rocket capable of an unpiloted trip to Mars in 2022, with a crewed flight two years later.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel Additional reporting by Noeleen Walder and Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Peter Henderson and Cynthia Osterman

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