Elon Musk takes a swipe at Mark Zuckerberg's ironclad control of Meta and says it's set up so even 'Mark Zuckerberg the 14th' will be in charge of Facebook and Instagram

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Elon Musk takes a swipe at Mark Zuckerberg's ironclad control of Meta and says it's set up so even 'Mark Zuckerberg the 14th' will be in charge of Facebook and Instagram
Elon Musk disses Mark ZuckerbergAssociated Press
  • Elon Musk compared Mark Zuckerberg's role at Meta to that of a monarch.
  • The Facebook founder owns the majority of Meta's voting shares.
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Elon Musk dissed Mark Zuckerberg's lasting control over Meta during an interview Thursday.

Musk was asked about his recent offer to buy Twitter during an interview at the TED conference in Vancouver, British Columbia. The interviewer, Chris Anderson, asked Musk whether his status as the richest man and one of the platform's top influencers could pose a conflict of interest.

Musk used the opportunity to take a swipe at Zuckerberg.

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"As for media sort of ownership, I mean, you've got Mark Zuckerberg owning Facebook and Instagram and WhatsApp, and with a share ownership structure that will have Mark Zuckerberg the 14th still controlling those entities," Musk said.

"Like, literally," Musk added amid laughter from the audience. "We won't have that at Twitter."

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Musk's statement could be referring to a future long line of Zuckerberg descendants or could be a reference to King Louis XIV, who ruled France for over 72 years and is known as the longest-reigning monarch.

The Tesla CEO was also referencing Zuckerberg's stronghold on Meta, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. The Facebook founder holds 55% of the company's voting shares — which means Zuckerberg essentially has complete veto power over other shareholders when it comes to the company's future. The company has a dual-class stock structure that provides Zuckerberg, select executive managers, and directors with supervoting power inasmuch as one of their shares is equivalent to 10 votes, while other shareholders are limited to one vote per share.

A Meta spokesperson didn't immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

Tesla doesn't have a dual-class share structure, but Musk still enjoys considerable influence. He is the electric-car maker's largest individual shareholder, with a 17% stake. While Musk doesn't have the same level of control of the company as Zuckerberg does with Meta, Tesla does have supermajority voting rules that require the approval of two-thirds of shares to pass major changes, providing Musk a level of veto power.

If he successfully bought Twitter, Musk said he would structure the company in a way that would avoid any perception of a conflict of interest, including making the platform's code publicly accessible.

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"I wouldn't personally be in their editing tweets." Musk said. "But, you'll know if something was done to, to promote demo or otherwise affect a tweet."

Musk said his offer to buy Twitter was "not a way to make money" but a bid to protect freedom of speech. The Tesla CEO also appeared to diss Meta's handling of moderation efforts. The social-media company has faced pressure from both sides of the aisle on its handling of COVID-19 misinformation, as well as the Capitol siege. Musk appears to believe in erring on the side of allowing the dissemination of information as long as it is legal in the countries the platform operates in.

"I'm not saying that I have all the answers here, but I do think that we want to be just very reluctant to delete things," Musk said. "And just be very cautious with permanent bans. Timeouts, I think, are better than permanent bans."

Musk and Zuckerberg have a longstanding feud. In 2016, Zuckerberg issued a public statement saying he was "deeply disappointed" in SpaceX after one of the company's rockets destroyed a Facebook satellite. Musk has said Facebook gives him "the willies." Most recently, Musk criticized Facebook for how it handled the siege on the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

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