The chances that Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk will never face each other physically are growing. What are the lessons to be learned from this media soap opera? Should the press have abstained?
In June, as Mark Zuckerberg’s group prepares to launch Threads, Twitter competitor Elon Musk takes on his billionaire rival in a cage fight. The exchanges between Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg are done through the social networks of each, Twitter then X for the first, Instagram then Threads for the second.
The level of unusualness of the idea of a physical confrontation between two business leaders and billionaires is such that the tech press and the more general press do not hesitate to cover the subject, the author of this paper included. But haven’t we fallen into a media trap from two eccentric billionaires?
The fight will probably never take place
This weekend, Mark Zuckerberg decided to dot the i’s through a publication on Threads.
I think we can all agree that Elon isn’t serious and it’s time to move on. I proposed a real date. Dana White offered to make it a legitimate competition for charity. Elon won’t confirm a date, then says he needs an operation, and now asks to take a practice ride in my backyard instead. If Elon ever decides to set a real date and organize an official event, he knows how to reach me. If not, it’s time to move on. I will focus on competing with people who take the sport seriously.
In another publication, he once again clarified: I love this sport and I’ve been ready to fight since the day Elon challenged me. If he agrees on a date, I’ll let you know. In the meantime, assume that not everything he says has been agreed upon.»
For Mark Zuckerberg, this case and the launch of Threads are two ways to regain popularity with the web population. The failure of the launch of the metaverse and the many scandals surrounding Facebook had seriously damaged the popularity rating of the New York entrepreneur.
Elon Musk talks nonsense
Most interesting in both posts is the questioning of Elon Musk’s credibility in his posts on X (Twitter). As journalist Casey Newton recalls on the newsletterPlatform, this is not the first time that the boss of Tesla has come to terms with the truth. In 2018, a tweet from Elon Musk announcing that Tesla will be taken off the stock market caused Tesla investors to lose $12 billion over 10 days.
So when Elon Musk talks about a fight organized in a prestigious place in Italy, after discussion with the government of the country, it is advisable to take tweezers.
Some may see it as an additional perch from the billionaire to the far right, in power in Italy, after the many foot calls sent to Donald Trump’s allies in the United States for several months.
Stop commenting on ads
Elon Musk also seems to be inspired by the former American president when it comes to posting regularly on Twitter, which has become X, and making the headlines with ever more extravagant releases or announcements. They also have the advantage of diverting the intention away from the problems of the X platform, concerning its moderation, the application of promises or the return of advertisers.
Faced with this habit of Elon Musk to multiply the announcements, without necessarily concretizing them behind, it becomes important to take a step back. When the billionaire promises to cover the legal fees of anyone on X who has been fired because of a publication on the platform, it is necessary to wait for the first trial where Elon Musk will have actually written a check, as Casey Newton suggests.
A trap to avoid?
As you will have understood, it is starting to become important to detach from the promised match between Zuckerberg and Musk, especially when the latter makes announcements. However, there are arguments in favor of media coverage.
First of all, it is difficult to reasonably ignore the actions and communication of two heads of international groups as important as Meta (Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp) or X (and Tesla, SpaceX, etc.). On the other hand, let’s be frank, for many people, this case is a source of entertainment. It will therefore also be a source of audience for many media. In the middle of summer, where the news is often more timid, this is necessarily of interest to them.
Ultimately, the speeches of the two billionaires are current events that are difficult to completely ignore. On the other hand, they can be analyzed and put into context. In particular by recalling that these are two of the richest men on the planet, imbued with toxic masculinity and with media or financial interests no doubt far removed from their fervent supporters.
The correct answer is therefore perhaps somewhere in between. Perhaps it was reasonable to cover the challenge launched between the two men while taking the necessary distance, without talking about it with fascination, then no longer discussing every moment of this soap opera while waiting for a passage from announcements to facts.
And you ? How do you view this affair and its treatment by the press? You can explain your choice in the comments section, with kindness and respect for others.
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