Fake Elon Musk tweet spreads after Twitter's suspension of journalists

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Social media users are claiming Twitter owner Elon Musk tweeted that suspending journalists from the platform is "innocuous" compared to murdering them. This is false; the supposed post does not appear on Musk's page -- a Reddit user created it as satire.

"You know, in some parts of the world, journalists get murdered for crossing the wrong people," says the text in what appears to be a screenshot of a December 16, 2022 tweet from Musk. "Banning the reporters I don't like from my own platform feels like a pretty innocuous alternative to me."

Posts showing the purported tweet spread across platforms -- including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok -- after Twitter on December 15 suspended several journalists who have reported on Musk or his companies. The reporters, whom Musk accused of sharing links that amounted to "doxxing" him, have since had their accounts restored.

Screenshot from Twitter taken December 21, 2022

But the tweet attributed to Musk, who said December 20 he will step down as chief executive of Twitter after nearly two months at the helm, is a fabrication.

Live and archived versions of Musk's Twitter page show he authored no such post. It also does not appear in a database of Musk's deleted tweets maintained by PolitiTweet, a website that monitors the Twitter accounts of various public figures.

On December 16, Musk tweeted about a rocket launch by his company SpaceX, the so-called "Twitter files," the platform's usage rates and "Spaces" feature for live audio conversations, and free speech.

The earliest post sharing the fake Musk tweet that AFP found appeared on Reddit alongside the label: "Satire / Fake Tweet."

The poster, who has previously shared other made-up tweets, confirmed to AFP that the tweet is fabricated.

"I did make it, and yes, I made it for satirical purposes," the user said in a Reddit direct message.

AFP reached out to Twitter, SpaceX and Tesla, another Musk company, for comment. Responses were not forthcoming.

AFP has debunked other fake social media posts about Musk here, here and here.