While the situation between Russia and Ukraine continues, some Americans are concerned about a possible civil war. Warfare was also on Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s mind when he backed out of his proposed Twitter takeover, citing concerns about “World War III,” but his legal team claims it’s unrelated.
The revelation emerged during a court hearing last Tuesday when private messages revealed the billionaire had allegedly indicated it would be prudent to “slow down” his Twitter acquisition since it wouldn’t “make sense” if a third world war was close. He’d already agreed to pay $44 billion for Twitter.
In July, Musk’s legal team alleged that the agreement was being violated because Twitter withheld information regarding spam and bot accounts. Nonetheless, on May 8, Musk texted a Morgan Stanley banker about a speech that Russian President Vladimir Putin was scheduled to give the next day.
“Let’s slow down just a few days,” the texts read, per Insider. “Putin’s speech tomorrow is really important. It won’t make sense to buy Twitter if we’re heading into World War 3.”
According to Insider, Musk’s lawyer, Alex Spiro, claims that the text was taken out of context and that the whole interaction between his client and the Morgan Stanley official will be presented on the court docket next week. Spiro termed the Twitter lawyer’s read-along of Musk’s text “utter nonsense.”
According to reports, the back-and-forth between Musk’s defense and Twitter’s attorneys was a bit of a he-said, she-said affair, with the Twitter side claiming that Musk merely wanted to withdraw from the arrangement for personal financial reasons.
Musk’s attorneys countered that their client changed his mind about the acquisition after speaking with the former Twitter head of security, Peiter Mudge Zatko, who said the social media platform had significant privacy issues and that Musk had been misled by its leadership about them.
“[Twitter’s] theory about what really happened,” Spiro said, “isn’t what really happened.”
This isn’t the first time Musk has discussed the possibility of a third world war. In September 2017, he shared his concerns that artificial intelligence will spark it. Those remarks were also made in reaction to Putin, who had declared at the time that whatever country had the strongest mastery of AI would “rule the world.”
Musk has also long warned of a future AI-fueled catastrophe.
He told CNBC’s Closing Bell in 2014 that he enjoys “keeping an eye on what’s going on with artificial intelligence.” He continued: “There have been films about this, such as [The] Terminator. There are potentially frightening outcomes.”