On Monday night, Twitter users were confused when it became clear that Tesla-related tweets had been liked. This strange alert was displayed on the platform. Instantly, users started to speculateBecause Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO, was recently appointed CEO of Twitter, and has a thin skin, this warning was necessary. But there’s a simpler explanation than Musk trying to protect the brand of his electric car company.
Brad Munchen shared a tweet from China Daily English Language, owned by the Chinese Communist Party.
“Imagine the head of the China Passenger Car Association saying this about your company,” Munchen tweetedWith a screenshot that highlights a quote by Cui Dongshu (secretary-general, China Passenger Car Association).
According to the China Daily article, Tesla is facing the serious problem of having a limited product range. Its inability to react to Chinese consumer preferences has resulted in a passive position for Tesla, which can rely only on few options, like price reductions, to remain competitive.
Anyone who tries to like the tweet is met with a warning that reads, “Help keep Twitter a place for reliable info. Find out more before liking this Tweet.” I’ve circled the warning that pops up in the tweet below.
But the reason for the warning isn’t Musk’s well-documented sensitivity around criticism of his various brands, believe it or not. Any attempt to follow a tweet originating from Russia or China, will result in the warning. You can also try it.
Hua Chunying (China Foreign Ministry Spokesperson) often tweets links from Xinhua, a Chinese media outlet. But if you try to like any of those tweets, you’ll receive the same warning.
You can still enjoy the tweets, but you will need to first read the warning.
Anyone trying to click on a Russian State Media outlet tweet will also be warned. Sputnik News. But the warning doesn’t appear for state-backed media outlets that are considered allies of the U.S., including Germany’s DW news outlet.
Curiously, we know from texts made public in the trial between Twitter’s former board and Elon Musk that the billionaire doesn’t actually have a personal problem with state-run news out of other countries.
In tweets between Musk, who’s identified as “self” in the court documents, and Antonio Gracias, the former head of Tesla, the billionaire says that he actually finds Russia Today to be entertaining.
“EU passed a law banning Russia Today and several other Russian news sources. We have been told to block their IP address,” Musk texted on March 5, 2022, according to court documents.
“Actually, I find their news quite entertaining,” Musk says in another text message to Gracias.
“Lot of bullshit, but some good points too,” Musk wrote in a follow-up.
Musk, who’s notorious for breaking many of Twitter’s unspoken etiquette rules, has previously received criticism for being too cozy with both Russia and the Chinese Communist Party, two U.S. adversaries in the New Cold War. For instance, Musk was praised by Beijing politicians when he said that Taiwan should be controlled by the Communists.
But even if Musk has gotten criticism, he’s still kept Twitter’s warning on state-backed news outlets as part of the platform. That is, if he’s even aware that Twitter is still giving a warning about tweets to state-owned media outlets in China and Russia. Because if there’s one thing we know for certain about Musk’s purchase of Twitter: He didn’t really know what he was buying when he offered to take the company private. Many surprises have occurred, to put it mildly.