By Niniola Folatoriola
Elon Musk is currently on trial for alleged defamation against cave diver Vernon Unsworth.
- Musk called Unsworth “pedo guy” on Twitter after the diver criticized Musk’s proposal to use a tiny submarine to rescue a Thai soccer team trapped in a flooded cave system.
- The trial started on Tuesday and had to exclude numerous potential jurors for a bizarre variety of reasons, including that two of them follow Musk on Twitter.
Elon Musk is one of the most popular users on Twitter with nearly 30 million followers, which is causing some logistical hiccups in his defamation trial this week.
The billionaire Tesla CEO is facing Vernon Unsworth in court this week, the rescue cave diver who Musk called “pedo guy” on Twitter.
Musk sent the tweet last year after Unsworth criticised his involvement in the case of the Tham Luong cave rescue, when a soccer team and their coach became trapped in a flooded cave system. Musk proposed he would build a mini-submarine to ferry the boys out, an idea which Unsworth called a “PR stunt.”
Unsworth sued Musk, and the trial kicked off on Tuesday in a Los Angeles court.
Musk testified in his own defense, affirming that by calling Unsworth a “pedo guy” he was not literally accusing him of being a pedophile.
Jurors for the case had to be extremely carefully selected for impartiality due to Musk’s high profile, and numerous jurors had to be dismissed. Two were dismissed because they follow the Tesla billionaire on Twitter.
Musk is a prolific tweeter, and since the original insult went out on Twitter the pair knew the details of the case.
Musk’s influence was not constrained to his Twitter activity however:
- Multiple potential jurors admitted to having links to Musk’s various companies including Tesla, SpaceX, the Boring Company, Open AI, and Neuralink.
- Four owned Tesla cars.
- One was due for a job interview at SpaceX.
- One was dismissed due to having strong opinions about billionaires.
The trial is due to resume on Wednesday, with Musk’s lawyer Alex Spiro questioning the billionaire.