Elon Musk says impulse to speak out leads to ‘self-inflicted wounds’


Musk was sued in Texas state court in October by Ben Brody after endorsing a social media post that compared an Instagram profile of Brody to a photo of a White supremacist who violently clashed with the Proud Boys in Portland, Oregon. — AFP

Elon Musk said he is “guilty of many self-inflicted wounds” while being questioned in a lawsuit accusing him of promoting a conspiracy theory falsely identifying a California man as a federal agent posing as a neo-Nazi street brawler.

But the billionaire also said he didn’t think he had “meaningfully harmed” the Jewish 22-year-old who sued him for defamation.

“There’s some risk that what I say is incorrect, but one has to balance that against having a chilling effect on free speech in general, which would undermine the entire foundation of our democracy,” Musk said in a sworn deposition that was made public Monday despite his lawyer’s request that it remain confidential.

Musk was sued in Texas state court in October by Ben Brody after endorsing a social media post that compared an Instagram profile of Brody to a photo of a White supremacist who violently clashed with the Proud Boys in Portland, Oregon, while both groups were protesting a Pride event in the city.

Internet personalities cited the profile, which identified Brody as a University of California, Riverside, political science major who planned to work for the government, in claiming that the street brawl was engineered by the authorities to discredit right-wing groups. Similar “false flag” claims have been propagated about the Jan 6, 2021, Capitol riot as well as a number of mass shootings.

Brody said in his suit that he and his family suffered a wave of harassment by “belligerent strangers” apparently motivated by Musk’s statements. He said he also feared long-term career consequences.

While Musk’s commentary on social media has landed him in court before, it’s the first time he’s been sued for defamation since buying Twitter in 2022 for US$44bil and rebranding it as X.

Musk said in the March 27 deposition that he did not know Brody, nor did he have any ill will toward him.

“My goal is simply to have the X platform be the best source of truth on the Internet,” he told Brody’s lawyer, Mark Bankston, according to a 115-page transcript. “And when you try to figure out the truth of things, you – there’s a debate. That debate, you know, goes one way or the other, but it is a vigorous debate.”

At another point in the questioning, Musk let on that he’s sometimes his own worst enemy.

Bankston asked him about telling his biographer, Walter Isaacson, that “I’ve shot myself in the foot so often, I ought to buy some Kevlar boots.”

“Would you say that as of last summer that you knew that you had had some difficulties restraining your impulses on Twitter?” the lawyer asked.

“I would say that I – you know, I’m guilty of many self-inflicted wounds,” Musk said. – Bloomberg

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