Clips of Elon Musk accusing journalist of lying during interview go viral

Billionaire and Twitter CEO Elon Musk, in an impromptu interview with the BBC, said that running the social media platform has been "quite painful" and "a rollercoaster". The interview at the firm's head office in San Francisco included discussions on the mass lay-offs, misinformation and his work habits.

Discussing Twitter's finances, Musk said the company is now
Discussing Twitter's finances, Musk said the company is now "roughly breaking even", as most of its advertisers have returned. Photo courtesy: Twitter/ @ben_derico

A clip of his contradictory exchange with interviewer James Clayton over whether there was a rise in hate speech on Twitter since Musk took over has gone viral. Musk accuses the journalist of lying after the latter did not give a concrete example of hate speech on the platform. 

"What hate speech are you talking about? I mean, you use Twitter. Do you see a rise in hate speech? Just a personal anecdote? I don't," Musk said.

"Honestly, I don't. I don't actually use that feed anymore because I just don't particularly like it," said the journalist on Twitter's 'For You' feature. "And actually a lot of people are quite similar. I only look at my followers."

"I'm asking for one example and you can't give a single one. Then I say, sir, that you don't know what you are talking about. You cannot give me a single example of hateful content, not even one tweet. And yet you claimed that hateful content was high. That is false, you just lied," Musk replied.

Musk has shared multiple versions of the interview excerpt on Twitter. Over the course of the nearly two-hour long session, Musk asked almost as many questions as he answered. The entrepreneur also said he would sell the company if the right person came along.

Musk, who also runs car maker Tesla and rocket firm SpaceX, bought Twitter for USD 44 billion (GBP 35.4 billion) in October 2022. A recent report valued the company at around USD 20 billion. 

Musk also admitted that he only went through with the takeover because a judge was about to force him to make the purchase.

"It's not been boring. It has been quite a rollercoaster… It's been really quite a stressful situation," he said.

Musk also admitted that the workload and pressure led to him "sometimes sleep(ing) in the office", adding that he has a spot on a couch in a library "that nobody goes to".

And he also addressed his sometimes controversial tweets saying: "Have I shot myself in the foot with tweets multiple times? Yes."

"I think I should not tweet after 3am," he added.

And he confirmed Twitter will change its newly added label for the BBC's account from "government funded media" to say it is "publicly funded" instead, which was one of the key points which led to the short notice interview, to which over 200,000 people tuned in live.

Earlier this week, the corporation contacted the social media giant over the designation on the @BBC account to resolve the issue "as soon as possible".

Musk said Twitter was adjusting the label for the BBC to "publicly-funded". 

Discussing Twitter's finances, Musk said the company is now "roughly breaking even", as most of its advertisers have returned.

"We could be profitable, or to be more precise, cash flow positive this quarter if things keep going well. I think almost all advertisers have come back or said they are going to come back," Musk stated.

He also said that cutting the workforce from just under 8,000 at the time he bought the firm to about 1,500 had not been easy.

The exit of many of Twitter's engineers since Musk bought the company has raised concerns about the stability of the platform. He acknowledged some glitches but said outages have not been seen for very long and the site was currently working fine.

Musk has an estimated personal fortune of almost USD 190 billion, making him the world's second richest person, according to the Forbes billionaires list.