Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, speaks to CNBC, May 16, 2023.
David A Grogan | CNBC
Twitter suspended the accounts of PlainSite and its founder Aaron Greenspan, a prolific tesla and critic of Elon Musk, Tuesday afternoon.
PlainSite is an online database that makes state and federal court filings and other public records freely available to users. The site also offers analysis features for paying subscribers, with the goal of helping pro-se lawyers and litigants obtain information about lawyers, judges, government offices, and the law.
Greenspan has meticulously followed litigation by or against companies primarily in the US, including Tesla, Twitter, which Musk took private in an acquisition last year, as well as competitors. GM, Goal and a myriad of others. He and Musk have also been involved in litigation over the years.
At the time the PlainSite account was suspended, it had over 24,000 registered Twitter followers. Greenspan’s personal account had about 2,500 followers.
The suspension stands in stark contrast to public statements by Twitter CEO and CTO Elon Musk and newly appointed CEO Linda Yaccarino. Yaccarino was previously head of global advertising at NBCUniversal, the parent company of CNBC.
In April 2022, after Musk announced his intention to acquire Twitter, he wrote in a tweet: “I hope even my worst critics stay on Twitter, because that’s what free speech is all about.”
More recently, Yaccarino wrote in a company-wide memo that a healthy civilization needs “unfiltered information sharing and open dialogue about the things that matter most to us.” He also said in the memo: “You should be free to speak your mind. We all should.”
Greenspan told CNBC on Thursday that he has yet to receive any information from Twitter as to why the company suspended his accounts, although he has requested the reinstatement of both.
He also discussed some of the reasons he started the PlainSite “legal transparency initiative,” and how he came to be regarded as a nemesis of Elon Musk.
“I created PlainSite with two friends in 2011, because we were all wondering why Occupy Wall Street didn’t have the impact we hoped for,” he recalled. “No financial executives went to jail for the 2008 financial crisis, even though it was actually obvious that crimes had been committed somewhere. We thought one of the reasons was that people didn’t understand what the law said and what the loopholes that the banks or the executives were in”. capable of exploding to get out of being held accountable”.
Over the years, Greenspan has sold short shares in some of the companies he has researched and written about in PlainSite, disclosing those positions when he held them. It’s not a short Tesla today, but it has been in the past, he said.
PlainSite began its Tesla-focused investigation in 2018 after the US Securities and Exchange Commission charged Musk and Tesla with civil securities fraud.
The charges came after Musk tweeted that he was considering taking Tesla private at $420 a share and had secured funds to do so, causing a trading halt that day and sending Tesla shares into a period of volatility. for weeks.
Musk and Tesla settled the charges with regulators, with no admission of guilt or ability to claim innocence.
Greenspan said: “I wasn’t interested in Tesla until the SEC took action against the company and Elon that year. That made me think it might be overvalued, given that it was having trouble with financial regulators.”
A community on Twitter, including short sellers and other subject matter experts interested in what Tesla was doing, became frequent PlainSite users and subscribers.
Court filings and public records provided by PlainSite often revealed details about Tesla’s problems and tactics. PlainSite records obtained through FOIA requests have been widely cited by the press, including CNBC, Reuters, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, and many others.
Since 2018, Greenspan has made court documents and other public records available on PlainSite that revealed:
- Twitter faces more than 25 lawsuits for non-payment to suppliers since Elon Musk took office in October 2022.
- Despite Musk continually promising shareholders that Tesla was on the verge of delivering a “level 4-5” autonomous robotaxi, the company’s Autopilot engineers classified its most advanced driver assistance systems as “level 2” in official government communications with the California DMV. A level 2 system is not autonomous. It requires drivers to keep their hands on the wheel.
- Complaints sent to attorneys general in Texassnowfall and Ohioshowing that Tesla customers were unable to get the EV maker to provide the required documentation to register their vehicles with local DMVs.
- Musk once attempted to refer a former process technician at Tesla’s Gigafactory, whistleblower Martin Tripp, to the US Attorney’s office for the District of Nevada. for criminal prosecution (p. 192).
- Musk knew, but did not tell shareholders, that SolarCity was facing a cash crunch at the time Tesla’s board was pushing to acquire the solar installer, which was started by Musk’s first cousins and where Musk was a major. investor and board member.
In May 2020, Greenspan sued a Tesla promoter alleging harassment, and named Musk as a contributing party to that harassment in the lawsuit.
Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.