Fisker CEO Deletes Twitter Account On Concerns About Elon Musk’s Control Of His Free Speech
Henrik Fisker, CEO of electric-car maker Fisker Inc., was a high-profile Twitter departure this week, deleting his account over concerns about how the social media platform will operate under ownership by Elon Musk, a longtime rival.
Twitter’s board on April 25 accepted Musk’s $44 billion bid to buy the company and take it private. Fisker, a well-known car designer who once worked for Musk under contract in Tesla’s early days, in his final tweet encouraged followers to shift to his Instagram to keep tabs on him. Musk says he’s committed to making Twitter a bastion for free speech, but Fisker isn’t so sure about that.
“I believe 100% in free speech,” he told Forbes via text message. “But I do not want my free speech to be actively managed or controlled by a competitor. And I do not want a competitor to determine how my followers experience Fisker as we grow our company.”
Some Twitter users are expressing concerns about the direction the platform will take under Musk’s control—such as a higher tolerance for hate speech, vaccine falsehoods and content that’s racist, misogynistic or attacks the LGBTQ community–though it’s unclear how many will leave. Other accounts, such as the popular “Elon Musk’s Jet,” which provides updates on where the mercurial billionaire flies his luxurious Gulfstream G650ER, are concerned they’ll be removed when the sale is complete.
Though he’s no longer on Twitter, Fisker Inc. is. Whether or not the Los Angeles-based carmaker maintains its account “is a company decision,” Fisker said, without elaborating. A company spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the matter.
Fisker’s concerns are echoed by the American Civil Liberties Union, which also isn’t a fan of Musk’s Twitter deal even though he’s donated to the free-speech organization and is a “card-carrying” member.
“There’s a lot of danger having so much power in the hands of any one individual,” said Anthony D. Romero, the ACLU’s executive director. “In today’s world, a small handful of private tech companies — including Twitter — play a profound and unique role in enabling our right to express ourselves online. … We should be worried about any powerful central actor, whether it’s a government or any wealthy individual — even if it’s an ACLU member — having so much control over the boundaries of our political speech online.”
Fisker, who once styled a BMW roadster for James Bond and led Aston Martin’s design studio, was an early design consultant for the vehicle that would eventually become Tesla’s Model S sedan. Musk didn’t like Fisker’s concept and (unsuccessfully) sued him in 2008 for breach of contract, claiming the Danish entrepreneur took the project to spy on Tesla. Fisker denied the accusation.
His first attempt to take on Tesla, with the plug-in hybrid Karma luxury car from Fisker Automotive, failed about a decade ago, but he’s back with Fisker Inc. The company’s all-electric Ocean SUV, a competitor to Tesla’s Model Y, launches late this year and will be built under contract for Fisker by auto-engineering powerhouse Magna in Graz, Austria.
The Ocean starts at $37,499 for the base Sport version that goes 250 miles per charge. A top-of-the-range Extreme grade gets at least 350 miles per charge, accelerates from 0 mph to 60 mph in just 3.6 seconds and will set buyers back $68,999. A second Fisker model, the PEAR, is to be built in partnership with Foxconn in Lordstown, Ohio, starting in 2024.
Fisker shares fell 4.3% to $10.48 in Nasdaq trading on Tuesday.