The Elon Musk Twitter saga just keeps getting weirder. Days after Musk finally took control of the social media platform, he fired off a head-scratching tweet from a dubious source about the man who violently attacked Paul Pelosi, the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Then his tweet, which he posted early Sunday, vanished later in the day.
Amid many doubts about where Musk will take Twitter, the sequence only deepened the uncertainty.
Musk was responding to a tweet from Hillary Clinton, who shared a Los Angeles Times article about the suspect, 42-year-old David DePape, who became immersed in right-wing conspiracies online. She wrote, “The Republican Party and its mouthpieces now regularly spread hate and deranged conspiracy theories. It is shocking, but not surprising, that violence is the result.”
Musk responded, “There is a tiny possibility there might be more to this story than meets the eye,” including a link to an article claiming the attacker was someone Paul Pelosi met at a gay bar.
It was then widely reported that Musk deleted his tweet, prompting one disappointed Twitter user to write, “Never cave to the leftist mob. Never!”
HuffPost then tweeted an update to its reporting on the incident, writing, “UPDATE: Elon Musk, Twitter’s new CEO, had his own tweet deleted from the platform after he pushed a false conspiracy theory about the recent life-threatening assault on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband.”
Fortune reached out to Twitter for clarification on how the tweet was deleted but did not receive an immediate response.
One Twitter user joked of Musk, “You know he’s just going to say this was a test.”
Leery of Twitter under Musk
However the incident unfolds, it will do little to instill confidence among the many Twitter users—among them celebrities, lawmakers, and advertisers—apprehensive about where Musk will take the platform.
Musk’s drama-filled $44 billion takeover of the company was finalized on Thursday, and so far there’s little sign of calm being established. Trolls were quick to flood the platform with offensive slurs and anti-Semitic memes after Musk—a self-described “free-speech absolutist”—took control.
The Network Contagion Research Institute, a social media research firm, reported that use of the N-word spiked 500% on Twitter in the 12 hours after Musk took control. LeBron James called the news “scary AF,” adding, “So many damn unfit people saying hate speech is free speech.”
In response, Musk shared a tweet from a Twitter employee reading, “Nearly all of these accounts are inauthentic. We’ve taken action to ban the users involved in this trolling campaign—and are going to continue working to address this in the days to come to make Twitter safe and welcoming for everyone.”
Not everyone is convinced.
Despite Musk rushing to reassure advertisers that the platform wouldn’t become a “free-for-all hellscape,” General Motors said it would pause advertising on Twitter, adding, “We are engaging with Twitter to understand the direction of the platform under their new ownership.”
And yesterday Shonda Rhimes, the screenwriter and producer behind hit shows like Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy, tweeted that she’d be leaving the platform, writing: “Not hanging around for whatever Elon has planned. Bye.”
Amid the uncertainty, Musk’s bizarre, short-lived tweet will likely do little to reassure doubters.
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