Elon Musk admits he has two burner Twitter accounts in bizarre, popcorn-worthy libel deposition

Elon Musk admits he has two burner Twitter accounts in bizarre, popcorn-worthy libel deposition

Elon Musk admitted that he has two alternate accounts on X, the social network formerly known as Twitter, while answering questions under oath in a Texas libel lawsuit.

In a deposition made public on Monday, the 52-year-old tech tycoon said he had one test account that he barely used and one side account that he uses more regularly.

Though the court's transcript named that account as "baby smoke 9,000", this is likely a misnomer for @babysmurf9000, an existing account that has given many signs of affiliation with Mr Musk.

The identity of the other suspected alt, @ermnmusk, was confirmed by court exhibits seen by HuffPost, which first reported on the deposition.

That revelation was just one of many striking moments in a bizarre and heated two-hour questioning session, which often saw the opposing lawyers talking or shouting over each other.

The deposition comes as Mr Musk is being sued over a series of tweets from last June in which he boosted false claims that a 22-year-old Jewish man named Ben Brody had participated in a neo-Nazi rally as an undercover agent provocateur.

Mr Brody has sued the billionaire businessman seeking damages for the wave of harassment and threats that he suffered in the aftermath of Mr Musk's tweets. Mr Musk's lawyers meamwhile contend that his conduct did not constitute libel.

Since buying Twitter for an eyebrow-raising $44bn in 2022, Mr Musk has repeatedly alienated advertisers and outraged civil society groups by spreading conspiracy theories and endorsing antisemitic ideas.

Elon Musk’s deposition has been released (AP)
Elon Musk’s deposition has been released (AP)

In the deposition, Mr Musk acknowledged that he was “guilty of many self-inflicted wounds” and “may have done more to financially impair the company than to help it” since purchasing Twitter, now X.

Nevertheless, he flatly claimed that he did not think Mr Brody “had been materially harmed by this”, prompting Mr Brody's lawyer Mark Bankston to respond: “Wow. Okay.”

According to the lawsuit, multiple far-right Twitter accounts had falsely claimed that Mr Brody was involved in a street brawl between two rival far-right extremist groups at an LGBT+ Pride event in Portland, Oregon last June.

The accounts further alleged that Mr Brody had deliberately infiltrated one of the groups as part of a “false flag” operation to discredit them, on behalf of either the US government or Antifa activists.

Mr Musk, who has 180 million followers and has been accused of creating a special algorithm to boost his tweets above those of others, replied to one such claim with the words “very odd”. To another, he said: “Always remove their masks.”

Two days later, he described the brawl as “a probable false flag situation” and said it “looked like” one of the brawlers was “a college student who wants to join the government”, which many users interpreted as a reference to Mr Brody.

In his deposition, Mr Musk admitted that he had made no attempt to check the credibility of the people he replied to, claiming that it would be “impossible” to scroll through the timeline of everyone he replies to.

When shown another tweet made by one of those accounts on the same day, which suggested that Jewish people have manipulated world history through the United Nations, Mr Musk agreed that it “suggests antisemitism”.

However, he said he had been clear in his own tweets that he was not certain of his information, and had invoked X’s “Community Notes” system so that other users could fact-check him and correct him if he was wrong.

“I think I really did this in good faith, because [otherwise] I would not ask for a fact-check, which is what I do by adding Community Notes,” he said.

He also said that he did not have anyone in his life who had tried to rein him in or intervene when he made various tweets promoting conspiracy theories.

In between all this, Mr Musk and his lawyer Alex Spiro clashed with Mr Bankston in snarky exchanges reminiscent of an Aaron Sorkin script.

“Why are you yelling? Calm yourself,” said Mr Musk during one exchange. “Yeah, why are you yelling?” echoed Mr Spiro. “I mean, show some decorum,” added Mr Musk.

When asked at the very beginning whether he understood that he was being sued by Mr Brody, Mr Musk repeatedly claimed that the “real plaintiff” was Mr Bankston and that he had engineered the lawsuit for financial gain.

Meanwhile, Mr Spiro continually objected to Mr Bankston's questions while accusing him of seeking “a big day in a sun”, claiming the lawsuit wasn't a “real case”.

When Mr Bankston cited two previous legal cases in support of his questions, Mr Spiro was untroubled: “Yeah, I'll look at those cases but he's not answering that right now. I'm pretty confident those cases are not directly on point.”

Mr Bankston, who previously represented the families of Sandy Hook shooting victims in their lawsuit against online shock jock Alex Jones, was not amused.

“Next time I'd appreciate it if you showed up in a deposition with a Texas lawyer who had an understanding of Texas law,” he said. “These random, insulting, professionally demeaning [comments] really have no place here.”

At one point, Mr Spiro claimed: “You're just giving speeches that nobody's listening to but you. You're just doing them for yourself.” Mr Bankston replied: “Oh, they're for the record.”

At another, Mr Musk asked Mr Bankston: “Do you feel the need to yell again?” Mr Bankston responded: “I might.”

The case continues.