The rivalry between Tesla and Facebook has been going on for several years now. While at first glance it would seem like a strange beef for two tech companies that are among some of the richest corporations in the world, helmed by billionaires who have had business interests intersect in the past, there's been a history of animosity between both Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg that dates back several years.
It seems to have all started back in 2016 when a SpaceX blast (Musk's rocket company) took out of a Facebook satellite. Zuckerberg said that he was "deeply disappointed" about the explosion. A couple of years after that, Facebook's Cambridge Analytica scandal went public, which prompted Musk to delete his company's Facebook pages. He tweeted that Zuckerberg's business gave him "the willies" and to date, there are still no official Tesla pages on the social media platform.
The satellite that Musk's SpaceX disaster destroyed was Facebook's AMOS-6, which was geared at providing internet connectivity to individuals in the developing world. It would've also been FB's first orbiting satellite.
Musk responded to reporter Kerry Flynn about the launch in a tweet stating, "Yeah, my fault for being an idiot. We did give them a free launch to make up for it, and I think they had some insurance."
Yeah, my fault for being an idiot. We did give them a free launch to make up for it and I think they had some insurance.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 23, 2018
Then in 2017, the two got into somewhat of a public tiff regarding artificial intelligence. Elon Musk has some strong opinions on the future application of artificial intelligence and hasn't minced words when sharing his thoughts on the development of machine learning. He has publicly stated he believes AI is humanity's "biggest existential threat."
Zuckerberg seems to have countered that sentiment in 2017 while speaking during a Facebook Live Broadcast, "I have pretty strong opinions on this. With AI especially, I'm really optimistic, and I think that people who are naysayers and try to drum up these doomsday scenarios ... I don't understand it. It's really negative, and in some ways, I actually think it's pretty irresponsible."
I've talked to Mark about this. His understanding of the subject is limited.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 25, 2017
Musk succinctly responded on Twitter in a response to someone who was asking him to comment on Zuckerberg's AI thoughts: "I've talked to Mark about this. His understanding of the subject is limited."
2018 is when Musk deleted both SpaceX and Tesla Facebook pages around the same time WhatsApp's cofounder Brian Acton had tweeted, "It is time. #deletefacebook," at the height of the Cambridge Analytica news.
Musk had stated that he wasn't attempting to make a political statement about deleting the pages but that he found Facebook unsettling. In early 2020, the face of Tesla motors responded to actor Sacha Baron Cohen's post about the "dangers" of using Facebook. Musk responded with a simple message, "#DeleteFacebook It's Lame".
Then, after the Capitol building riots that kicked off 2021, Musk tweeted "This is called the domino effect" and attached to the tweet was a picture of dominoes, with the first domino labeled "a website to rate women on campus." The final domino was a reference to the Capitol Building rioters.
He followed up that tweet with repeated criticisms of Facebook's data-sharing practices and has told people to uninstall WhatsApp after the social media network announced that users of the popular messaging service would have no choice but to opt-in to its data-sharing agreement.
Elon Musk has stated that people should use Signal instead, which was created by Moxie Marlinspike and WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton. Signal provides end-to-end encryption of messaging and puts the protection of user data first.
WhatsApp has a reported 2 billion users worldwide, but there have been mass removals of the application from people's devices as of late. The exact number of individuals who have "sworn off" WhatsApp is not known.