The claim that Elon Musk is wielding a bot army to promote Tesla is an old conspiracy that just won’t fade away — or some people won’t let fade away. I don’t think there’s much chance Elon Musk or Tesla are utilizing a Twitter bot army to pump the stock or promote Tesla in a positive light, despite recent thinly veiled accusations from the LA Times on the matter. The approach simply doesn’t mesh with Elon Musk’s philosophy or business approach on a variety of matters.
In an article published by the LA Times, the claim was put forth that Elon Musk had help from Twitter bots in building his personal cult and promoting Tesla. The article cited research from David Kirsch, a professor at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. Kirsch co-authored a study titled “Bubbles and Crashes: The Boom and Bust of Technological Innovation” that stimulated the hypothesis.
Kirsch also appears to have a history of participating in the anti-Tesla fringe group that tags themselves “TSLAQ,” with the Q being a symbol for bankruptcy on the stock market. (A company that goes bankrupt gets a Q added to the end of its stock symbol.) Make of this what you will.
How about this? pic.twitter.com/fvt9qI0lI4
— Whole Mars Catalog (@WholeMarsBlog) April 12, 2022
This isn’t to say that Twitter doesn’t have a bot problem. It actually does. It also has a troll problem, and I’ve seen these bots and trolls promoting anti-Tesla content consistently over the years. By “anti-Tesla,” I mean stuff like “Tesla is a fraud” or “Elon is a fraud” or other narratives that seek to harm the company.
Tesla Doesn’t Need A Bot Army
Elon Musk has always been upfront about Tesla’s refusal to pay for any type of advertising. Tesla depends on word-of-mouth advertising — meaning customers sharing their experiences with their friends, family, and colleagues. There’s an enormous amount of evidence of this on YouTube as well as Twitter, and those YouTubers certainly aren’t bots.
Also, clearly, the demand has been pretty high over the past couple of years! Tesla has sold out consistently even as it has ramped up production. Those aren’t bots buying millions of Teslas.
What I do see often are accusations that I am secretly a paid Tesla employee or other such nonsense. Such conspiracies are often rampant on Twitter and make their way into mainstream media headlines. I was even accused once of being associated with Nigerian bots because, at the time, people were interacting a lot with my jewelry content. Perhaps they were — but they were not my bots! I don’t have the knowledge or patience to build bots and would rather spend my money on supplies for my business instead of paying someone to make a Twitter bot.
The myth that Elon Musk and Tesla use bots to pump the stock is rather old, and I do find it odd that this resurfaced just after Giga Texas had its grand opening. Instead of writing about the generosity of Elon Musk to Tesla employees, the Tesla community, and the community of Austin, TX, they go and write nonsense. They claim that the company and Elon are hyped up by a misleading army of bots, yet ignore the many humans who or attended to attend the Giga Texas “cyber rodeo.” Fans even traveled from out of state at the chance of getting into the event at the last minute.
The Bot Army Issue Is Real, But It’s Not Tesla’s Or Elon’s Fault
The bot issue is a legitimate issue and, as the article noted, companies do use them to market content. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. The ones that spam with cryptocurrency links are especially blatant and annoying. And there are those pesky crypto scammers that somehow get verified on Twitter and manage to change their name to Elon Musk and their photo to his.
But this isn’t the fault of Elon Musk or Tesla. In fact, Elon Musk recently purchased a large stake in Twitter in what I think is a signal of his plans to make Twitter a better network for all of us. He even confirmed with me on Twitter that the bots were an issue he’s bothered by.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 9, 2022
The bot problem is real, but I don’t think we should blame Elon just because he has 80-something million followers. Some of those followers are surely bots. All notable accounts surely have many bot followers. I have bot followers, and have even blocked a few of the annoying ones, but honestly, I don’t have the time to sit there and sort through each and every follower to see if they are a bot or not.
I think the issue of the bots should indeed be addressed, but along with a solution. Elon recently proposed some ideas: Take the Twitter Blue subscription and charge $2 per month for users and verify them after a few months of payment. If they turn out to be scammers or spam or are proven to be annoying bots, they lose their verification forever.
He also suggested the idea of getting rid of the ads. “The power of corporations to dictate policy is greatly enhanced if Twitter depends on advertising money to survive.”
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