Elon Musk’s Most Unhinged Moments: From Answering Press Inquiries With Inappropriate Emojis to Offering Wikipedia $1 Billion to Change its Name

By: Georgia | Published: Dec 28, 2023

In 2023, Elon Musk – the man behind SpaceX, X, and Tesla – found himself in the spotlight for a mix of bold and controversial decisions.

This recap takes you through the ups and downs of Musk’s eventful year, giving you a look at the moments that got everyone talking.

Twitter's Transformative Year under Musk

Elon Musk began his tenure as CEO of Twitter with significant operational changes, including altering the company’s headquarters sign to read “Titter” and adopting the display name “Harry Bōlz” on his own Twitter account.

A close-up view of a digital tablet screen displaying the Twitter application page, with the app's iconic blue bird logo prominently centered

Source: Souvik Banerjee/Unsplash

These actions were part of a series of unconventional decisions Musk made while leading the social media giant, which is now known as X.

Mass Layoffs and Management Tactics at Twitter

During Musk’s initial months as Twitter’s CEO, he oversaw extensive layoffs, affecting a significant portion of the workforce. Musk estimated that he’d fired about 80% of staff.

Elon Musk is pictured against a solid blue background, wearing a black leather jacket with a shearling collar. His hands are clasped in front of him

Source: Getty Images

He publicly addressed these layoffs and his approach to restructuring the company in a conversation with Tucker Carlson. Musk’s management style during this period was direct and unapologetic, as he navigated the company through major organizational changes.

The Poop Emoji Incident

In a move that illustrated his contentious relationship with the media, Elon Musk decided to end direct communication between journalists and Twitter.

A person holds up a large cookie shaped like the poop emoji directly in front of their face

Source: Sincerely Media/Unsplash

In March, he announced that emails sent to Twitter’s press address would be unanswered. To emphasize his stance, an auto-reply with a poop emoji was set up for those reaching out to the company.

Conflict with the Anti-Defamation League

Elon Musk publicly expressed his disagreements with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a Jewish nonprofit organization.

Elon Musk is captured in a candid photo, displaying a wide, joyful smile while holding a clear glass of water

Source: Getty Images

He criticized the ADL for its stance on X/Twitter’s content moderation policies, specifically regarding accusations of antisemitism and hate speech on the platform.

Altering Public Radio’s Online Identity

Elon Musk engaged in a public exchange with National Public Radio (NPR) after he labeled their Twitter account as “state-affiliated media.”

The National Public Radio (NPR) headquarters building is shown under a bright blue sky with puffy white clouds

Source: Wikimedia Commons

NPR responded by ceasing its activity on the platform. Musk then suggested rebranding their account as “National Pumpkin Radio,” a comment that reflected his ongoing disputes with media organizations.


Elon Musk on 'Real Time with Bill Maher'

In an appearance on the television show ‘Real Time with Bill Maher,’ Elon Musk discussed various topics, including social and political issues, and then made the now infamous “woke mind virus,” comments.

A portrait of Bill Maher, wearing a blue suit, white shirt and gray tie

Source: Wikimedia Commons

His attempt to mix tech talk with humor didn’t quite gel, making for some awkward television moments.


Public Spat With Mark Zuckerberg

In 2023, Elon Musk and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg engaged in a public feud, mainly conducted through social media.

A portrait of Mark Zuckerberg, he is smiling against a blurred green background suggesting an outdoor setting

Source: Getty Images

The dispute included challenges and taunts, highlighting the competitive and often contentious relationship between major tech industry figures.


Proposal to Rename Wikipedia

Musk proposed renaming Wikipedia to “Dickipedia” and offered $1 billion for this change.

An open laptop displaying the Wikipedia homepage in a web browser. The Wikipedia logo and the title "The Free Encyclopedia" are visible at the top of the page

Source: Oberon Copeland @veryinformed.com/Unsplash

This suggestion came amid his criticisms of Wikipedia’s editorial policies and financial model.


Launch of AI Bot Grok

Elon Musk’s AI company, xAI, introduced a new chatbot named Grok in 2023. This bot was integrated into Twitter for premium users and was designed to mimic Musk’s style of communication, including his use of sarcasm.

Elon Musk is pictured in profile with a soft smile, engaging in a conversation at a conference. He is wearing a dark suit, a white shirt, and a lanyard around his neck that reads "AI SAFETY"

Source: Getty Images

The launch of Grok represented Musk’s interest in combining technology with elements of his personal brand.


Summary of Musk's Unhinged Moments

Throughout 2023, Elon Musk’s approach to managing Twitter and his public communication style were characterized by directness and a willingness to challenge conventional norms.

Elon Musk is seen with an engaging smile, gesturing with his hands, as he speaks at Viva Technology

Source: Getty Images

This approach led to a series of significant organizational changes at Twitter and influenced the public discourse around the company and its policies.


Reflecting on Elon Musk's Year

2023 was a year of significant developments for Elon Musk, marked by bold decisions and public controversies.

Elon Musk is pictured stepping out of a building, offering a casual wave with his left hand. He is dressed in a formal dark suit and tie with a crisp white shirt

Source: Getty Images

From his leadership at Twitter to his interactions with media organizations and other tech leaders, Musk’s actions and statements significantly impacted the tech industry and public conversation.