#ElonMuskIsATraitor is Trending on the Platform He Paid $44 Billion to Buy



Elon Musk

Hannibal Hanschke/Pool via AP

Elon Musk infamously paid $44 billion to purchase Twitter, and on Tuesday, his pricey platform was promoting a hashtag dedicated to eviscerating him over his decision to deny the Ukraine military access to Starlink over Russian-occupied Crimea.

Musk closed on the deal to buy Twitter last October just before a lawsuit in the Delaware Chancery Court to force him to honor his purchase agreement was set to commence. Since then, he’s fired a majority of the staff, changed the verified “blue check” account system to a paid subscription model, replaced the well-known bird logo and branding with “X,” plus floated numerous other controversial and chaos-inducing changes.

The world’s richest man frequently makes headlines for his tweets and other efforts to affect international policy, drawing sharp criticism for his comments about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, specifically his advocacy for Ukraine to give up their claim to Crimea (which Russia illegally annexed in 2014) and other concessions which the Ukrainians are unwilling to make.

Musk’s control over the Starlink satellite system through his company SpaceX has been another point of contention during the war in Ukraine, and criticism reached a boiling point after an excerpt from Walter Isaacson’s upcoming biography of Musk revealed that he refused to allow the Ukrainian military to connect to Starlink during a planned assault by Ukrainian submarine drones armed with explosives on a Russian fleet near the Crimean coast.

Without internet access to guide them, the drones “lost connectivity and washed ashore harmlessly,” Isaacson wrote. Musk reportedly expressed worries about being involved in an offensive that he argued would escalate the war. Isaacson clarified that Musk had made the decision to not allow Starlink to be used for offensive attacks in Crimea beforehand, and denied the Ukrainian request to turn it on for this effort (he did not, as previously reported, turn the connectivity off mid-assault).

Regardless, Ukrainian officials blasted Musk for preventing their drones from destroying the Russian fleet and thereby allowing it to fire missiles at Ukrainian cities, killing civilians, including children.

“This is the price of a cocktail of ignorance and big ego,” tweeted Mykhailo Podolyak, a top aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Unsurprisingly, Russian President Vladimir Putin defended Musk, lavishly praising him as “undoubtedly an outstanding person” and “an active and talented businessperson” who was “succeeding a lot.”

The Platform Formerly Known as Twitter joined the chorus of Musk’s critics Tuesday, with #ElonMuskIsATraitor being promoted as a trending topic after several days of gathering tweets (I was able to see it multiple times in the early afternoon in the Twitter “What’s happening” sidebar and under the “Explore” tab when logged into both the @Mediaite account and my personal Twitter account).

#ElonMuskIsATraitor trending topic

Screenshot via Twitter.

The tweets that garnered popularity under this hashtag included ones questioning the wisdom of allowing Musk to have such an influential role in international politics, and specifically his companies that were defense contractors for the U.S. military, as well as those that argued that he was prolonging the war — and the deaths of Ukrainian civilians and children — by thwarting the Ukrainian military’s efforts.

Musk had defended himself against the accusations of treason in a tweet Tuesday morning, writing that he was “a citizen of the United States and [has] only that passport.” He argued that since the U.S. Congress had not “declared war on Russia,” then “[i]f anyone is treasonous, it is those who call me such.”

This is far from the first time Musk has been attacked on his own platform. Most recently, he was brutally mocked for his tweets saying he planned to sue the Anti-Defamation League for defamation, blaming the group for causing antisemitism on Twitter and crashing the value of his company. His lawsuit threat was widely panned by First Amendment legal experts as not just absurd, but legally weak to the degree that he could face paying the ADL’s attorneys’ fees if he did actually sue.

The self-described Chief Twit has also touted Twitter’s utility in exposing otherwise isolated powerful people to criticism, writing recently about Microsoft founder Bill Gates — who drew Musk’s ire when he shorted Tesla stock –that he “doesn’t get enough negative feedback,” but “[t]his platform is great for that.”

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Sarah Rumpf joined Mediaite in 2020 and is a Contributing Editor focusing on politics, law, and the media. A native Floridian, Sarah attended the University of Florida, graduating with a double major in Political Science and German, and earned her Juris Doctor, cum laude, from the UF College of Law. Sarah's writing has been featured at National Review, The Daily Beast, Reason, Law & Crime, Independent Journal Review, Texas Monthly, The Capitolist, Breitbart Texas, Townhall, RedState, The Orlando Sentinel, and the Austin-American Statesman, and her political commentary has led to appearances on the BBC, MSNBC, NewsNation, Fox 35 Orlando, Fox 7 Austin, The Young Turks, The Dean Obeidallah Show, and other television, radio, and podcast programs across the globe.