Ad Criticizing Tesla Reportedly Too 'Political' for Twitter

Closeup of a Tesla badge on a red Model S
Closeup of a Tesla badge on a red Model S

You’d think that with so many companies deciding to stop advertising on Twitter, Elon Musk would welcome anyone willing to buy some ads. They have money. He needs money. Simple equation, right? Apparently not, at least if those ads are critical of Tesla.

According to the Daily Mail, Twitter recently rejected an ad buy from a group called The Dawn Project. If you remember, that’s the group that angered Tesla when it released videos of tests it conducted showing cars equipped with the so-called “Full Self-Driving Mode” failing to detect child-size dummies. Tesla responded with a cease-and-desist letter, and some Tesla fans responded by asking people to volunteer their real children so they could prove The Dawn Project was lying.

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When the group tried to buy ads showing its tests on Twitter, they were reportedly rejected for being “political’ despite previous ads being approved. A spokesperson for The Dawn Project told the Daily Mail that they believe Musk’s takeover of Twitter “seems to have brought about this change, which is one of the first instances of its kind since the takeover.” They continued, saying:

Dan [O’Dowd, founder of The Dawn Project,] and The Dawn Project have promoted tweets in the past highlighting the many dangers of Tesla Full Self-Driving, which have previously been approved by Twitter

They have promoted tweets drawing attention to the defects of Tesla FSD, which have not been suppressed in the past.

Dan is planning to appeal the decision to ban the tweet, as the issue represents a vital public safety concern.

The ban on political ads is not new, however, with the support page saying, “We have made this decision based on our belief that political message reach should be earned, not bought.” Twitter also defines political ads as “Content that references a candidate, political party, elected or appointed government official, election, referendum, ballot measure, legislation, regulation, directive, or judicial outcome,” and it also says, “Ads that contain references to political content, including appeals for votes, solicitations of financial support, and advocacy for or against any of the above-listed types of political content, are prohibited under this policy.”

If The Dawn Project’s ads were calling for “Full Self-Driving” software to be illegal, that would presumably fall under Twitter’s definition of a political ad, but it seems like a stretch for that to apply to videos that show the software failing to detect children. It also raises questions of whether Musk will remain neutral if other automakers want to buy ads claiming their cars are superior to Teslas.

O’Dowd has long been critical of both Musk and Tesla, so it’s understandable that there’s some bad blood between them. But it still seems like this decision sets a bad precedent for the future of Twitter. And if Musk legitimately believes The Dawn Project’s videos were faked, he should just go ahead and sue. Let the truth come out in discovery, Elon.

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