Report: Tesla Employees Prioritized Testing Resources for CEO Musk and Influencers

Chris Teague
by Chris Teague

Despite all the regulatory flak, Tesla’s advanced driver assistance technologies are popular with owners, and there is no shortage of internet influencers with heavily-produced videos singing their praises. A new report from Business Insider (BI) suggests that those influencers and some of the company’s executives may have received preferential treatment during those “tests,” as the automaker may have assigned a higher level of human scrutiny to their routes over those of the general public.

Tesla’s Autopilot and Full Self-Driving (FSD) features can be helpful in taking the load off of human drivers in some situations, but the company employs several real, breathing people behind the scenes to review camera footage and help keep things in check. According to the BI report, those data annotators paid extra-close attention to the systems when CEO Elon Musk or one of the small army of influencers were behind the wheel, potentially draining resources from monitoring the driving habits of everyone else.

Sources said the annotators were told to heavily monitor Tesla usage around specific locations, such as around Twitter’s HQ in San Francisco when Musk bought the company. The workers, who were usually judged on the volume of data they could process, were told to take extra care and time with Musk’s vehicles.

Tesla’s annotators were also told to monitor influencers’ videos, focusing heavily on people the company thought could post opinions on its software’s functionality. Some said they’d been told they were working on “VIP data,” noting that they would focus on their home areas and routes they were most likely to take during testing.

[Images: Shutterstock and Tesla]

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Chris Teague
Chris Teague

Chris grew up in, under, and around cars, but took the long way around to becoming an automotive writer. After a career in technology consulting and a trip through business school, Chris began writing about the automotive industry as a way to reconnect with his passion and get behind the wheel of a new car every week. He focuses on taking complex industry stories and making them digestible by any reader. Just don’t expect him to stay away from high-mileage Porsches.

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2 of 30 comments
  • Jer65725303 Jer65725303 3 days ago
    I hate the word "influencers" and refuse to use it or give them credit. They are people who have creatively amassed followers/subscribers but have no real credibility in most cases, only opinions. They don't deserve recognition beyond "people who have lots of followers or subscribers. I rank them up there with Yelpers and little twits on IG, OF and other social media sites who are self aggrandizing. The Simpsons got it right years ago: If you ignore them they'll go away.
  • ToolGuy ToolGuy 3 days ago
    Can't comment right now; my laptop battery is only at 85%.
  • Rover Sig Absolutely not. Ever.
  • EBFlex No. I buy as little Chinese products as possible.
  • John "...often in a state of complete disarray on the roads" What does that mean? Many examples in poor repair? Talk about awful writing.
  • Varezhka Saving sedans in US or globally? Right now around half of the global sedan sales is in China, just under a quarter in North America, and the remaining quarter distributed around the rest of the world. So for a sedan to stay around they must sell well in both China and North America (BMW, Mercedes, Toyota, Honda) or just extremely well in China (VW/Audi and Nissan). For everyone else, the writing is on the wall. There’s also a niche of subcompact sedans in SE Asia and India but I believe those are being replaced by SUVs too.
  • Kcflyer it's not a ford, it's not a mustang. just like the ford gt is not a ford but multimatic gt or mustang wouldn't roll off the tongue