Elon Musk apologizes to British diver whom he called 'pedo guy'

Aarthi Swaminathan
Finance Writer

Billionaire tech pioneer Elon Musk has apologized for calling a British cave diver “pedo man” on Twitter. The apology came after lawyers explained that the tweet could land the CEO of Tesla (TSLA), SpaceX and Neuralink in legal trouble.

The cave diver, Vern Unsworth, told Reuters late Tuesday — prior to the apology — that he had been approached by British and American lawyers and was mulling next steps.

Here’s Musk’s apology:

Elon Musk speaking at the Westworld Featured Session during SXSW in March, in Austin, Texas. (Photo by FilmMagic/FilmMagic for HBO)

Unsworth, who contributed to the recent rescue of 12 young boys and their soccer coach from a Thai cave, had criticized Musk over his idea of building a minisubmarine to help the cause.

The criticism provoked Musk to tweet back: “You know what, don’t bother showing the video. We will make one of the mini-sub/pod going all the way to Cave 5 no problemo. Sorry pedo guy, you really did ask for it.”

The diver could have won a defamation case in either the U.K. or the U.S., lawyers told Yahoo Finance.

Because Musk is a prominent public figure, “he has a tremendous amount of social influence,” said Kenton Hutcherson, a partner at Hutcherson Law in Dallas.

British caver Vern Unsworth was interviewed by Reuters in the northern province of Chiang Rai, Thailand, on July 17. (Photo: Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters)

Longtime tech analyst Gene Munster wrote an open letter to Musk on Tuesday urging him to use self-restraint, given that his tweets were moving Tesla stock.

“The exchange with Vern Unsworth crossed the line,” Munster wrote. “I suspect you would agree given you deleted the string from Twitter, but it will take more than that to regain investor confidence.”

Munster added: “Thankfully, the road to regaining investor confidence is well traveled. It starts with an apology. Then, focus your message on your progress toward achieving Tesla’s mission. You might consider taking a Twitter sabbatical. Twitter might keep Tesla in the news but it won’t help continued improvements in production and product.”

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