By Barry Eitel
SAN FRANCISCO (AA) – The verified Facebook pages for SpaceX and Tesla were eliminated Friday after Elon Musk, the chief executive of both companies, was dared by a Twitter user to delete them.
The challenge occurred as the social media site was roiled by reports that Facebook user data was exploited by British political consultancy Cambridge Analytica on behalf of President Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign.
The official Facebook pages for Tesla and SpaceX had roughly 2.6 million followers each.
Friday morning, Musk replied to a tweet that Brian Acton, a co-founder of WhatsApp, wrote earlier in the week. Acton, who received a fortune when Facebook bought WhatsApp for $16 billion in 2014, tweeted out the trending “#deletefacebook” hashtag, adding that “it is time”.
“What’s Facebook?” Musk joked.
A user then challenged Musk to delete the SpaceX Facebook page. Musk coyly agreed and said he did not know there was such a page. It appears he also ordered the elimination of the Tesla page as well when another Twitter user brought it to his attention.
The Facebook page for Tesla-owned Solar City also appears to have been removed.
“I don’t use [Facebook] & never have, so don’t think I’m some kind of martyr or my companies are taking a huge blow,” Musk tweeted later. “Also, we don’t advertise or pay for endorsements, so … don’t care.”
The trio of Musk-led companies all still have verified accounts on Instagram, which is owned by Facebook. Asked on Twitter about this, Musk said Instagram was “probably ok” if it remained “fairly independent”.
Shares of Facebook tumbled another 3.3 percent Friday to close out the week at $159.39. The stock has fallen about 14 percent over the course of the week. Widely publicized reports about Cambridge Analytica’s ability to misuse the data of 50 million Facebook users during the 2016 election came out over the weekend.