Elon Musk has apparently mocked anti-racism initiatives by Twitter’s own employees, as well as a broader Black Lives Matter.
Mr Musk appeared to be laughing at t-shirts made by Twitter’s in-house group of companies for black employees.
He then criticized the Black Lives Matter protesters. He said the shirts came from the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, and that those protests were misguided.
“‘Hands up, don’t shoot’ was made up,” he said. “The whole thing was fiction.”
He then deleted that post and instead simply shared a link to the Justice Department’s report on the death of Michael Brown that sparked these protests.
Mr. Musk’s tweets began when he appeared to find a set of t-shirts that said “#StayWoke.”
These shirts were made by Twitter’s “Blackbirds” group. When it began selling the shirts in April 2016, Blackbirds said its mission was “to support and promote diversity on Twitter, create a more inclusive work environment, and enrich communities off Twitter.”
It also said the t-shirts’ message “simply means to keep up to date with what’s happening in the world around you”.
Hours later, he shared a post attacking those shirts more explicitly, claiming they were “from Ferguson protests.” “Obama’s own Justice Department proved this [and] exonerated the police officer.”
While it is true that the Justice Department concluded that police officer Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown in self-defense, it harshly criticized the police and their response to the protests that followed.
Musk’s latest tweets drew a lot of engagement, even on what is probably the site’s most controversial Twitter feed. Within hours of publication, the post received 55,000 retweets and 40,000 replies via T-Shirts.
Many of these answers were highly charged.
“Sign and sell them! Collectible!” wrote venture capitalist David Sacks. “I suspect that mocking, signing and selling the Blackbirds jerseys isn’t going to be as good a joke as you seem to think,” responded journalist Mat Honan.
In 2016, one of the shirts was worn by Jack Dorsey, who was Twitter’s chief executive at the time. He said that the shirts and their message should be about “really being aware and staying aware and continuing to question,” although this was attacked at the time as a cynical way of marketing itself to Twitter.