US regulators need to stop attempting to silence Elon Musk. TechCrunch recently reported that US securities regulators said that they have the authority to subpoena the Tesla CEO about his tweets and are pressuring a federal judge to not let Elon “get away with tweeting with abandon.”
Earlier this year, Elon Musk called the actions of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) harassment and unjustified action. Although he settled with the SEC in 2018 over the “420” tweet, he asked his followers last year if he should sell 10% of his stake in Tesla, which, according to the article, caused Tesla’s shares to decrease sharply. After Elon Musk sold around $16 billion worth of stock ($11 billion for taxes and the other $5.7 billion donated to charity) the SEC issued a subpoena because it wanted to make sure Elon Musk was complying with the settlement.
Elon Musk’s full statement about the SEC’s harassment is as follows:
“This unjustified action by the SEC leaves me deeply saddened and disappointed. I have always taken action in the best interests of truth, transparency and investors. Integrity is the most important value in my life and the facts will show I never compromised this in any way.”
Since then, Elon has been trying to either terminate or modify the 2018 consent decree. SEC regulator Melissa Armstrong wrote the following in a filing in the federal court of Manhattan:
“In 2018, to settle the SEC’s action against him, Musk agreed to comply with Tesla’s mandatory procedures requiring pre-approval of certain of his Tesla-related public communications.
“Musk cannot now cast off the Amended Final Judgment simply because he has found complying with Tesla’s procedures to be less convenient than he had hoped, or because he wishes the SEC would not investigate whether Tesla’s disclosure controls and procedures are actually being maintained and followed.”
As for Elon Musk’s accusation of the SEC of punishing him for exercising his constitutional right to free speech under the First Amendment as well as other complaints, Armstrong wrote:
“But Musk’s own chronology of alleged demands is both underwhelming and reflects legitimate inquiries as to new potentially violative conduct by Tesla and Musk — including the conduct that gave rise to the SEC’s 2018 enforcement actions.
“So long as Musk and Tesla use Musk’s Twitter account to disclose information to investors, the SEC may legitimately investigate matters relating to Tesla’s disclosure controls and procedures, including Musk’s tweets about Tesla, as well as the accuracy of Tesla’s public statements about its controls and procedures.”
US Regulators Are Focused On The Wrong Thing
I feel like these US regulators are being rather harsh toward Elon here. I’ve seen extreme Tesla critics (especially those who identify themselves as ‘TSLAQ”) use manipulative tactics on Twitter in order to affect Tesla’s share price negatively. I’ve seen a few mainstream media outlets amplify these voices. This group has stalked and targeted Tesla owners and supporters for a while now. Looking back, it’s clear to see that Elon’s tweets are not the actual problem in my opinion.
A Unique Position
Elon Musk and Tesla are in a rather unique position. Being that Tesla doesn’t pay for advertising and has no public relations team. Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing — Elon has said before that he would rather see Tesla use the money to develop its products than waste money on advertising and PR.
However, this has made Elon Musk Tesla’s standalone PR. Although I’ve been accused multiple times of being a paid Tesla PR or secret PR person both on Twitter, and sometimes even in the comments to some of my articles, I’m not, and neither are the other Tesla owners and/or supporters who interact with Elon often on Twitter.
I think that Elon answers questions for two main reasons: he genuinely cares about the needs of his customers and supporters, and when he sees a question that pertains to information that should be publicized, he answers it. As for why he mostly responds to a certain few Tesla owners — I think that’s all due to the Twitter algorithm, honestly. However, I’m no expert on that and these are just my opinions.
All of that being said, this puts Elon Musk himself is in a very unique position. Add in his millions of followers and you see why Tesla doesn’t need advertising or PR. Even before he had over 70 million followers, Elon always found a way to make his voice heard.
And now the SEC is doing its best to silence him. This is because of the position Elon is in. The US regulators don’t want a single person to have as much influence as Elon does. However, I think they need to back off. If they are cool with “TSLAQ” stalking and harassing people on Twitter just to impact the stock in some way, then Elon should be allowed to tweet freely as per his First Amendment rights. Again, this is just my opinion.