The man arrested after repeatedly misusing Tesla's Autopilot is a notorious Instagram wealth troll

·3 min read
The man arrested after repeatedly misusing Tesla's Autopilot is a notorious Instagram wealth troll
Param Sharma
  • The man who was charged after riding in the back of a driverless Tesla is an Instagram wealth troll.

  • Param Sharma has built a following from flaunting luxury items while trash-talking.

  • After getting out of jail, he arrived for an interview in the back seat of a new Tesla.

  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

The 25-year-old man arrested after riding in the back seat of a Tesla Model 3 while it semiautonomously drove on the highway is a notorious Instagram wealth troll.

Param Sharma regularly posts selfies with stacks of $100 bills and photos from the cockpit of half-million-dollar Lamborghinis. His account is like a young ultrawealthy elite Reddit "starter pack."

"I have unlimited money to blow on Teslas," he told the San Francisco Fox affiliate KTVU after the incident. "If you take away my Tesla, I will get another Tesla. That's how it works."

Param Sharma, who goes by "itslavishb----" on Instagram, is famous for these kinds of outlandish statements. It's all part of what he calls a "persona" created "for entertainment purposes only," according to his LinkedIn page.

He's been doing it for years, going back to 2013, when he trolled several celebrities.

Param Sharma, Instagram

"People feed off the crazy things I do, like pooping in sparkling water," Sharma told Vice in 2013. "I'm using wealth as comedy."

One Instagram post features a handful of gold-colored staples. In another, what appears to be two stacks of $100 bills wrapped in plastic are stuffed in his mouth.

The caption says: "Mama always told me to eat my greens b----."

While it's possible that Sharma is very wealthy, it's clear that he's intentionally playing a character: a wealthy troll who flaunts luxury items and mocks "blue-collar peasants" (people who aren't rich).

What's not funny is how dangerous it is to ride in the back seat of a moving car with no one behind the wheel, which is why the California Highway Patrol arrested Sharma earlier this week, charged him with two counts of reckless driving, and impounded his car.

California Highway Patrol pulls over a Tesla.
The Tesla Sharma was driving when he was arrested earlier this week was impounded by the California Highway Patrol. California Highway Patrol

While Tesla sells a "Full Self-Driving" package for its cars, the name is deceptive: It's a semiautonomous system that still requires a person in the driver's seat paying attention.

The $10,000 feature enables Tesla's cars to change lanes, get on and off the highway, and recognize stop signs and traffic lights. It is unable to adapt to changing conditions, and Consumer Reports said the system performed inconsistently in testing.

"Most features within Tesla's Full Self-Driving Capability suite worked inconsistently," Consumer Reports wrote in October. "At times, it also drove through stop signs, slammed on the brakes for yield signs even when the merge was clear, and stopped at every exit while going around a traffic circle."

In Tesla's messaging, the carmaker tells users of the Full Self-Driving feature to "not become complacent." The system "may do the wrong thing at the worst time," the disclaimer says, "so you must always keep your hands on the wheel and pay extra attention to the road."

After being released from jail this week, Sharma arrived for an interview in what appeared to be a new Tesla Model 3, which he conducted from the back seat.

When asked if the car was new, he answered in character: "Yeah, I'm rich as f---. I'm very rich."

Tesla did not respond to a request for comment from Insider.

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