- There’s no love lost between Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg.
- The billionaire tech CEOs have been feuding since at least 2016, when a SpaceX rocket explosion destroyed a Facebook satellite.
- Since then, they have butted heads in areas such as artificial intelligence and Facebook’s data-collection practices.
- Most recently, Musk tied Facebook to the violent insurrection in Washington, DC, describing it as a “domino effect.”
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For over four years, Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg have clashed over topics as varied as artificial intelligence and rockets.
The two moguls â€” one of whom leads Tesla and SpaceX and the other of whom leads Facebook â€” haven’t exactly kept their rivalry a secret. When a SpaceX rocket explosion destroyed a Facebook satellite in 2016, Zuckerberg issued a heated statement saying he was “deeply disappointed” about SpaceX’s failure. And when Facebook became embroiled in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Musk publicly deleted his companies’ Facebook pages, tweeting that the company gave him “the willies.”
The two billionaires are among the richest people on the planet, placing them in an elite circle, even by Silicon Valley standards. Even though both dabble in artificial intelligence, and their companies have partnered in the past, it seems there’s no love lost between Musk and Zuckerberg.
Here’s where their feud began and everything that’s happened since.
The Musk-Zuckerberg feud dates back to at least 2016, when a SpaceX rocket explosion destroyed a Facebook satellite.
In September 2016, SpaceX was testing its Falcon 9 rocket at a launch site in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Shortly after 9 a.m. the rocket exploded, destroying Facebook’s AMOS-6 satellite, which was supposed to ride the rocket into space.
The satellite was part of Facebook’s Internet.org project to deliver internet connectivity to the developing world and would have been Facebook’s first satellite in orbit.
Zuckerberg seemed openly frustrated that the launch failed, writing on Facebook that he was “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.”
Two years later, Musk addressed the failed launch in a tweet to the reporter Kerry Flynn.
“Yeah, my fault for being an idiot,” Musk said. “We did give them a free launch to make up for it, and I think they had some insurance.”
In 2017, Zuckerberg criticised Musk’s feelings about artificial intelligence, comments that seemed to get a rise out of Musk.
During a Facebook Live broadcast, a viewer asked Zuckerberg for his thoughts on Musk’s anxieties around AI.
“I have pretty strong opinions on this,” Zuckerberg said. “With AI especially, I’m really optimistic, and I think that people who are naysayers and try to drum up these doomsday scenarios … I don’t understand it. It’s really negative, and in some ways, I actually think it’s pretty irresponsible.”
Musk, who has repeatedly called for regulation and caution when it comes to new AI technology, shot back on Twitter.
“I’ve talked to Mark about this,” he said in response to a tweet about Zuckerberg’s comments. “His understanding of the subject is limited.”
In 2018, following Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal, Musk made a public show of deleting SpaceX and Tesla’s Facebook pages.
After the WhatsApp cofounder Brian Acton tweeted, “It is time. #deletefacebook,” Musk responded, “What’s Facebook?”
A fan responded to Musk’s tweet asking whether he’d delete the SpaceX Facebook page, to which Musk responded, “I didn’t realise there was one. Will do.”
After another fan pointed out that Tesla had a Facebook page too, and Musk tweeted that it “looks lame anyway.”
Soon after, both the SpaceX and Tesla pages disappeared from Facebook. Musk said it wasn’t a “political statement” and that he just found Facebook unsettling.
It’s not a political statement and I didn’t do this because someone dared me to do it. Just don’t like Facebook. Gives me the willies. Sorry.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 24, 2018
Musk continued his campaign against Facebook in early 2020.
#DeleteFacebook It’s lame
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 8, 2020
Following the riot at the US Capitol, Musk used Twitter to share memes linking the riots to Facebook.
On the evening of the rampage in Washington, Musk tweeted, “This is called the domino effect,” along with an image of dominoes, with the first one labelled “a website to rate women on campus,” a reference to Facebook’s inception at Harvard University. The last domino was about the rioters.
Musk also criticised Facebook’s data-sharing practices, tweeting another meme about Facebook that mentioned the company “spying” on users following the announcement by the Facebook-owned WhatsApp that it would start forcing users to share their personal data with Facebook.
Ya don’t say. Reminds me of this timeless classic … pic.twitter.com/Gq1wayoTIr
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 7, 2021
Musk tweeted that people should “use Signal,” an encrypted messaging app. His tweet was retweeted by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, another tech executive who has sparred with Zuckerberg.
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