Judge Rules Against Elon Musk in Tweet Case

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey
judge rules against elon musk in tweet case

When Tesla boss Elon Musk expressed a desire to buy Twitter last week, citing an absolutist vision of free speech as at least one reason behind his motivations, one had to wonder if his running afoul of the Securities and Exchange Commission over one of his tweets played a part.

To be sure, even if Twitter had no regulations moderating speech on the platform, Musk (or anyone in a similar position) could violate SEC regulations via tweet — a platform’s rules don’t protect someone from the Feds’ regs.

Still, Musk has shown a thin skin for criticism and it often appears that he desires to be able to say what he wants on Twitter without consequences. Consequences like having a federal judge rule that Musk knew certain infamous tweets about taking the company private having secured funding at $420 a share were misleading.

Tesla investors sued after the tweets hurt the company’s stock and lost them money. It’s a class-action suit and Musk and Tesla could be on the hook for billions in damages.

Lawyers for the shareholders are seeking a restraining order against Musk, to prevent him from speaking publicly about the tweets before the trial.

The shareholders have expressed concern that tweets from Musk could taint the jury pool. “[Musk] has used his fame and notoriety to sway public opinion in his favor, waging battle in the press having been defeated in the courtroom,” their lawyers wrote in the filing.

Obviously, this doesn’t mean Tesla and Musk have lost the lawsuit. It only means that U.S. District Court Judge Edward Chen believes Musk knew his tweet was “false and misleading” and “held that he recklessly made the statements with knowledge as to their falsity.”

As for Musk’s defense? First, his lawyer, Alex Spiro, claims Musk really was thinking about taking Tesla private in 2018 and had the financing to do so. Second: “free speech”.

“All that’s left some half decade later is random plaintiffs’ lawyers trying to make a buck and others trying to block that truth from coming to light, all to the detriment of free speech,” he said.

Here are the case specs, if you’re curious: In re Tesla Inc Securities Litigation, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 18-04865.

As for this author, I cannot pretend to know if Musk knowingly lied for whatever reason (including a poorly received attempt at humor) or if he really was sincere about going private. I do think, however, that “free speech” doesn’t necessarily apply when your words can move markets and possibly violate SEC regulations.

Actions, consequences, et cetera.

[Image: Naresh111/Shutterstock.com]

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  • Jwee Jwee on Apr 20, 2022

    @EBFlex "This is called projection. Musk is not for limiting anyones speech. He has never limited anyones speech." Musk blocked Robert Reich from his Twitter feed after he criticized Musk for how he treated his Tesla workers. As Reich explained from a week ago... https://www.eurasiareview.com/12042022-robert-reich-why-elon-musk-has-blocked-me-on-twitter-and-now-owns-the-joint-oped/

    • EBFlex EBFlex on Apr 20, 2022

      Nice pivot. How did that limit Robert Reich’s ability to speak or use Twitter? Thank you for proving my point.

  • Jwee Jwee on Apr 20, 2022

    Perhaps I am wrong, but when someone says "The sky is never red" and then you show them a sunset, it is not a pivot. The pivot is the person shifting the argument, trying to claim that they never said what they clearly. My good chap, you stated that Musk *never* limited anyones speech. Your exact words were: "Musk is not for limiting anyones speech. He has never limited anyones speech." I cannot know what Musk is for or against, nor can you, but clearly he limited one person's speech, Reich’s on Musk's twitter feed. Reich cannot post on Musk's feed. Thus your statement about "never limiting anyones speech" is inaccurate. The empty set is not longer empty when it contains even a single object. Sure, Reich can stand on some other soapbox a blabber all he wants, but Musk specifically limited Reich's speech, which for a free speech advocate who presumably is "not for limiting anyones speech" is a jolly poor show.

    • See 1 previous
    • EBFlex EBFlex on Apr 20, 2022

      "Perhaps I am wrong, but when someone says “The sky is never red” and then you show them a sunset, it is not a pivot. The pivot is the person shifting the argument, trying to claim that they never said what they clearly." Not analogous in the least. That's like saying if someone doesn't answer the phone, they are limiting the calling person's speech. I will stand by my claim, Musk has never limited someone's speech. You can use any sort of pretzel logic to try and disprove my assertion, but Mush has never limited anyone's ability to speak.

  • El scotto My iPhone gets too hot while using the wireless charging in my BMW. One more line on why someone is a dumbazz list?
  • Buickman yeah, get Ron Fellows each time I get a Vette. screw Caddy.
  • Dusterdude The Detroit 2.5 did a big disservice by paying their CEO’s so generously ( overpaying them ) It is a valid talking point for for the union ) However , the bottom line - The percentage of workers in the private sector who have a defined benefit pension plan is almost non existent - and the reason being is it’s unaffordable ! . This is a a huge sticking point as to have lower tier workers join would be prohibitive ( aside from other high price demands being requested - ie >30% wage gain request ) . Do the math - can a company afford to pay employees for 35 years , followed by funding a pension for a further 30 years ?
  • El scotto Human safety driver? Some on here need a human safety thinker.
  • Carlson Fan Stupid vehicle, that can't do any of the things a truck should be able to do. If I want something fast/quick and sporty I'll get a corvette or a 4 dr sport sedan. Taking a truck & neutering it to try and make it into something it's not is just pointless. But maybe that's the point of this road disaster