Elon Musk just went on a Twitter rant, and it zeroed in on a topic that you wouldn't necessarily guess: the validity of journalism. This Elon Musk Twitter rant focused on his new idea to create a website that rates journalists' work on a scale of truthfulness, and needless to say, Twitter users were pretty shook about the entire thing. Then again, this is the same man who is basically bringing the world closer to flying cars than ever before, so he kind of defies any labeling.
Although Musk is known to constantly be noodling on new ideas, inventions, and innovations for the world, his latest proposal is less tech-focused and more intellectually focused, and was revealed via a series of tweets on Wednesday afternoon. Musk started by lamenting the "holier-than-thou hypocrisy of big media companies". He then began to argue that some of these companies who claim to be telling the truth are in fact just delivering "sugar-coated lies".
Although Musk didn't call out the big-media companies by name, he did reference the intense need for journalists to drive online clicks for articles. So, it can be assumed he's talking about news companies that prioritize the delivery of information digitally, rather than through print. "Problem is journos are under constant pressure to get max clicks & earn advertising dollars or get fired," Musk tweeted. He added that Tesla doesn't advertise, and is therefore not involved in potential advertising corruption.
Musk's solution to the current problems he finds with big-media companies today is creating a new site, tentatively called "Pravda", which works as a "yelp for journalists". According to CNBC, "pravda" means "truth" in Russian, which is no doubt a less-than-subtle dig at the fake news scandals and rumors of Russian collusion surrounding the Trump administration. Both Trump and the Kremlin have denied the collusion allegations.
Musk even went so far as to crowdsource this idea, tweeting out a poll asking Twitter users if they thought this was a good idea or if there was no problem to begin with. The poll sided overwhelmingly with Musk's opinion, with 87% of the over 261,000 votes in favor of "creating a media reliability site (that also flags propaganda botnets)".
Musk was interacting with users' comments and questions in the midst of this rant, treating it like a brainstorming session. For example, when one Twitter user pointed out that spambots and trolls could sway the voting on this site, Musk agreed, tweeting in response, "[Pravda] not only needs to be botproof, but seek & unmask anyone operating a disinformation bot army."
The source of Musk's sudden hostility towards the media can be found in his original tweet, where he references an Electrek.Co article citing the negative coverage that Tesla has received recently as a company, and noting that this coverage is becoming "increasingly immaterial."
Although Musk doesn't take to Twitter rants or outbursts often, this isn't the first time that he's had an issue with the reporting styles. Just a week ago, Musk hopped on Twitter to criticize an article by The Washington Post detailing a Tesla accident that left a man with a broken ankle.
"It’s super messed up that a Tesla crash resulting in a broken ankle is front page news and the ~40,000 people who died in US auto accidents alone in past year get almost no coverage," Musk tweeted. Then he added in a follow-up tweet, "What’s actually amazing about this accident is that a Model S hit a fire truck at 60mph and the driver only broke an ankle. An impact at that speed usually results in severe injury or death."
Some Twitter users, however, are at odds with the idea of Pravda.
The notion of fake news and distrust of the media has been a consistent topic of conversation since the 2016 election. Some have argued that vocal distrust of the media is unwarranted and only leads to more distrust. Others, like Musk, have argued that this distrust requires action.
Some users even went so far as to compare Musk's Twitter rant to that of "authoritarians and demagogues", claiming that Musk is only "fanning the flames" of the current landscape of mistrust.
Musk's final tweet was pointed directly towards the reporters and editors of the big-media companies he had referenced throughout the rant: "If you’re in media & don’t want Pravda to exist, write an article telling your readers to vote against it …", he tweeted.
Of course, countless articles have been written about Musk's rant so far, but word's not yet out on how serious Musk actually is about the creation of Pravda in the future.