You can’t separate Elon Musk’s man

Although he is the richest man in the world, Elon Musk’s escapades cannot be analyzed solely through an economic prism. But how to tell the difference between his daily rantings and his serious plans? In Numerama’s #Rule30 newsletter, journalist Lucie Ronfaut dissects this paradox.

In advance, excuse me: I have to write about Elon Musk again. On July 8, the richest man in the world decided that, ultimately, he no longer wanted to acquire Twitter. However, it has been three months since the billionaire has been leading a particularly aggressive campaign to get his hands on the social network. He signed a takeover agreement (for 44 billion dollars!) then hastened to criticize his leaders, accusing them of having lied about the percentage of fake accounts (of ” bots “) present on the site, without any evidence to support his statements. Elon Musk now believes that Twitter has not fulfilled its information obligation. The case promises to be interminable, and to end in pain in court.

If you want more details on this, I recommend you read this excellent analysis of Bloomberg, in English. Its author, financial analyst Matt Levine, points out that Elon Musk ” likes to pretend he’s going to buy businesses, kinda like a hobby (I prefer to do cross-stitch, but everyone has their own delirium). Above all, he wonders about the media frenzy to which the entrepreneur is subject. ” Personally, I learned the lesson. The next time Elon Musk announces that he is going to buy a company — and he probably will again — I will know not to believe him, and especially not to write an article about it. “, he concludes. In fact, Elon Musk fascinates many people. He is ” the man who defies science “, a ” provocative ” who ” shakes up the industry and the codes “, compared to Tony Stark (the hero of the Iron Man comics) because his projects are ” crazy (I found all of these examples by quickly scrolling through Google News). Whether we admire him or laugh at him, we talk about him. He is rich ! He hangs out on Reddit! He makes jokes about cannabis! He humiliates feminists! He has nothing to give a shit about the authorities! It’s a troll! A visionary !

This article is an excerpt from our weekly newsletter Rule30, published by Numerama. This is the issue of July 13, 2022. To subscribe for free, it’s here.

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Elon Musk managed to ruin Twitter’s reputation

On the one hand, it makes sense to be interested in the decisions of a very rich, and therefore very influential, man regarding a social network that occupies an important place in public debate. On the other hand, considering this affair as a simple economic saga is probably a mistake. Just as one cannot separate the man from the artist, it is impossible to view Elon Musk’s decisions outside the context of his personal values. The bad news is that they are pretty scary! Elon Musk is sexist, transphobic, interested in collapsology theories, convinced that the decline in the birth rate is the greatest threat to humanity (nb: he has never really expressed his opinion on the right to abortion, even if at least one of its companies covers the travel expenses of its employees who cannot access abortion in their place of residence). Tesla is also the subject of several legal complaints for racial and sexist discrimination in one of its factories; in June, one of its shareholders even filed a complaint against the company and its board of directors for having encouraged a working atmosphere ” nefaste “. Finally, Elon Musk was personally accused of sexual harassment by a flight attendant working in one of his private jets. She would have received 250,000 dollars in exchange for her silence, according to the American press.

I don’t know Elon Musk’s true intentions, but I can see like everyone else that he has achieved at least two things: occupying media space, and ruining Twitter’s reputation with its shareholders and users and users, by spreading lies about how the company works. This whole circus has greatly pleased the American far right. After hoping that Elon Musk would free them from the ” censorship ” of Twitter (in most cases moderation decisions against online hate or misinformation), some and some now celebrate the “ genius of the entrepreneur, whose goal would always have been to destroy the social network from the inside. It is also interesting to note that Elon Musk often relays memes dedicated to him, which tell false things, but which are still widely propagated, because they are funny. It’s a classic strategy of the far right: hiding the most despicable ideas behind absurd and viral humor. Since April, Elon Musk has gained more than 20 million Twitter followers. Can we really keep laughing?

Elon Musk publishes yet another meme in an attempt to ridicule serious facts.

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The press review of the week

TokTok

If masculinist discourses have always existed online, they proliferated out of sight, usually in specialized forums. But for several years, they have adapted to the popularity of social image networks, on YouTube, Instagram, and more recently TikTok, mixing life advice and violently misogynistic remarks. These contents mainly target young teenagers. And they are often valued by recommendation algorithms, because of their great virality and their ability to make Internet users react. This is the subject of this article from Worldwhich you can read here.

Desi

street press went to meet the Desi House, a dozen French-speaking influencers and influencers from South Asian countries (Sri-Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, etc.). By copying the model of houses “, very popular among the stars of TikTok, they and they hope to highlight their culture, and to free the word on the racism that they and they undergo online and outside. Read it there.

We left

A lot of commotion on the side of the Z Event, the now famous charity video game marathon streamed live on Twitch. Last week, the event announced its partnership with the GoodPlanet foundation for its next edition, which will take place in September 2022. Problem: the association in question has been accused of greenwashing and other questionable things. Finally, the Z Event reconsidered its choice, and offers Internet users to vote for their favorite association. Summary of this whole story at Numerama.

TW: racism

In June, a BBC report revealed a vast network of Chinese videos featuring people living in different African countries (such as Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia or Mozambique), paid to perform racist sketches. A few weeks later, the media rest of the world also investigated this phenomenon, and even interviewed one of these « influencers », which defends its very lucrative activities (thanks to juicy advertising contracts, including from Western companies). Perhaps not for very long: the Chinese government reacted to the controversy, by banning the use of the word “Africa” ​​on the country’s major video platforms. You can read it here (in English).

Something to read/watch/listen to/play

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I don’t know about you, but lately I’ve been exhausted! I can’t concentrate on a TV series, let alone watch a movie. So I spend my evenings in front task master. This British game show, which has been around since 2015, features five personalities who compete in a task competition (task, in English): eat as much watermelon as possible in one minute, do something surprising with a rubber duck (see the illustration in this column), shoot a music video illustrating a nursery rhyme, play the drum in exactly 9 .58 seconds, etc. All of these challenges are filmed, then judged by the Taskmaster, comedian (and very hilarious) Greg Davies. Candidates are sometimes graded on their pure performance. But most of the time, absurdity is rewarded.

I like task master, because I never know what will happen there. Maybe I’ll see a well-known comedian stash bits of watermelon in his underpants. Or admire a snowman made with muslin mash. Or rather watch a woman ride a bike when she doesn’t know how to ride a bike. Did I really just hear a man having a hemorrhoid attack on camera? Only one thing is certain: it’s that I’m going to screw up, and forget a little about the much less funny absurdity of the world.

Taskmaster, to watch on the show’s YouTube channel (in English)

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