SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted on Friday that he had never seen the SpaceX Facebook page and planned to delete it.
“It is time. #deletefacebook,” Brian Acton, the co-founder of the messaging service WhatsApp, tweeted on Tuesday, the day the Federal Trade Commission opened an investigation into how Cambridge Analytica accessed the Facebook data. For whatever reason, Musk decided to respond to Acton’s tweet on Friday. “What’s Facebook?” he replied. He appeared to be joking, but someone decided to call his bluff.
“Delete SpaceX page on Facebook if you’re the man?” @serdarsprofile said.
“I didn’t realize there was one. Will do,” Musk replied. At this point, it wasn’t clear whether Musk was trolling or being serious, so others joined in.
After someone showed Musk a screengrab of the SpaceX Facebook page, he noted it was the first time he had seen it and that it would “be gone soon.” Then someone prompted him to delete Tesla’s Facebook page, with Elon responding that it “looks lame anyway.” And just for good measure, it seems that the Facebook page for Tesla-owned Solar City has disappeared as well.
Musk’s companies have a combined userbase of over 5.2 million users between the two pages. A form of free advertising (given Musk’s statement that Tesla “doesn’t advertise”) and viral marketing through live streaming of Space X launches and a strong cult-like following of loyal customers and window shoppers.
“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 we don’t advertise or pay for endorsements, so … don’t care.”
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.” That is probably when things started to heat up between the two.
Elon claims he doesn’t use Facebook and never has. The effects of the removal of the Facebook pages will be felt most by the people employed to run them, so Musk doesn’t deserve any praise for publicly boycotting the troubled social network. For Musk, the harder thing to do would be to swear off Instagram, which Facebook owns and which he loves. Which is why he said,
“Instagram’s probably ok imo, so long as it stays fairly independent”