Elon Musk, the billionaire tech entrepreneur and CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, is once again in the spotlight due to an ongoing feud with The New York Times. The controversy erupted when users noticed that the newspaper's account on X, the social media platform recently acquired by Musk, had its gold verification badge removed without explanation.
The gold badge is a prestigious designation that distinguishes official accounts from imposters on the platform. Initially, when Musk took over X, he granted the Times and other mainstream media outlets this badge. However, in a surprising turn of events, the Times' badge was removed, which sparked speculation and intensified the conflict between Musk and the newspaper.
Elon Musk removes NYT verification badge for being fake news 👀 now give #TommyRobinson his account back he’s the only Journalist brave enough spit facts stats and truth bombs 👇🏻 pic.twitter.com/RAZVgMrQjd
— BOURNYBOY (@BOURNYBOY76) October 20, 2023
This recent clash between Musk and the Times is rooted in their differing views on the Israel-Hamas conflict. Musk accused the newspaper of supporting "calls for genocide," leading to his call for the publication to be canceled. The Times initially ran a headline blaming Israel for bombing a hospital in Gaza, relying solely on Palestinian sources. Subsequently, evidence emerged that the explosion resulted from a misfired rocket by Hamas, prompting the Times to revise its headline multiple times.
In response to Musk's call for cancellation, X implemented a five-second delay on users' access to Times articles. This change has significantly reduced the Times' traffic from X, with reports indicating a 50% decline since August. Musk stated that this adjustment was made to keep users on X rather than redirecting them to other websites.
Musk's clash with the Times is part of a broader campaign against media outlets critical of his takeover of X. Some have accused him of spreading racism on the platform, while others claim he is interfering with their reporting by creating fake accounts. Musk has denied these allegations and has even encouraged conservative reporters like Tucker Carlson to embrace the platform's more lenient content rules. This strategy appears to be effective, as Carlson's ratings have surpassed those of his former employer, Fox News, on multiple occasions.
In characteristic Musk fashion, he responded to a challenge to explain his stance on the free press with a humorous reply, saying, "'Real journalists' lmaooo." This controversy follows Musk's earlier characterization of NPR as "state-sponsored media" earlier this year, which led the outlet to temporarily leave X but subsequently return.
It's evident that Musk's influence and controversial actions continue to create ripples in both the tech and media domains. While some applaud his efforts to disrupt the status quo, others criticize his methods and question his true motivations. Regardless, one thing is certain – Elon Musk is never dull.