Elon Musk tweeted a graphic early Saturday of a map showing Iran surrounded by over two dozen American flags, each of which meant to represent a U.S. military base. The graphic read, “Iran wants war. Look how close they put their country to our military bases.” Musk added, “Oh the Irany.”
The problem with Musk’s post? It’s misinformation, the sharing of which has plagued his X social media platform since his takeover in October 2022. The map shows 26 U.S. military bases in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Turkmenistan, none of which exist — as pointed out by BBC Verify journalist Shayan Sardarizadeh and others online.
The US does not have military bases in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. pic.twitter.com/hZpurdCq43
— Shayan Sardarizadeh (@Shayan86) October 28, 2023
Sardarizadeh was not the only person who attempted to correct Musk, but the tech mogul’s post remains public and viewable at the time of publishing, boasting 53 million views and 105,000 retweets.
The last U.S. military base in Afghanistan was Bagram Airfield, which the United States vacated on July 2, 2021. In May 2022, former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said Americans approached the country after withdrawing from Afghanistan and asked to establish military bases; he found this request “absolutely unacceptable.”
Now 11 hours after first sharing the post in question, a community note has been add to the bottom of Musk’s Iran graphic, reading, “There are no U.S. military bases in Turkmenistan, Afghanistan or Pakistan. Even the military bases that do exist in the Middle East are not nearly as many as the post would have you believe. This exaggerated flag-based approach is alarmist. This post is misleading.”
On Saturday, Musk also tweeted that Starlink services will be made available to “internationally recognized aid organizations” in the Gaza Strip. The territory has come under heavy military action by the Israel Defense Forces and all communications have been knocked out.