Billionaire tech pioneer Elon Musk has apologized for calling a British cave diver “pedo man” on Twitter. The apology came after lawyers explained that the tweet could land the CEO of Tesla (TSLA), SpaceX and Neuralink in legal trouble.
The cave diver, Vern Unsworth, told Reuters late Tuesday — prior to the apology — that he had been approached by British and American lawyers and was mulling next steps.
Here’s Musk’s apology:
Nonetheless, his actions against me do not justify my actions against him, and for that I apologize to Mr. Unsworth and to the companies I represent as leader. The fault is mine and mine alone.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 18, 2018
Unsworth, who contributed to the recent rescue of 12 young boys and their soccer coach from a Thai cave, had criticized Musk over his idea of building a minisubmarine to help the cause.
The criticism provoked Musk to tweet back: “You know what, don’t bother showing the video. We will make one of the mini-sub/pod going all the way to Cave 5 no problemo. Sorry pedo guy, you really did ask for it.”
The diver could have won a defamation case in either the U.K. or the U.S., lawyers told Yahoo Finance.
Because Musk is a prominent public figure, “he has a tremendous amount of social influence,” said Kenton Hutcherson, a partner at Hutcherson Law in Dallas.
“The exchange with Vern Unsworth crossed the line,” Munster wrote. “I suspect you would agree given you deleted the string from Twitter, but it will take more than that to regain investor confidence.”
Munster added: “Thankfully, the road to regaining investor confidence is well traveled. It starts with an apology. Then, focus your message on your progress toward achieving Tesla’s mission. You might consider taking a Twitter sabbatical. Twitter might keep Tesla in the news but it won’t help continued improvements in production and product.”
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