Silicon Valley billionaire Elon Musk has taken down two verified Facebook pages associated with his rocket company SpaceX and electric carmaker Tesla.
The Facebook pages, which had upwards of five million followers, disappeared minutes after being challenged by Facebook users on Twitter.
The move comes as a deletefacebook hashtag gained prominence this week after the world’s largest social network upset users by mishandling data, which ended up in the hands of Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy that worked on US President Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign.
Investigators from Britain’s data watchdog searched Cambridge Analytica on Saturday (Friday night local time) after a High Court judge granted a search warrant sought by the Information Commissioner’s Office. Britain is investigating whether Facebook did enough to protect data.
“Delete SpaceX page on Facebook if you’re the man?” a user tweeted to the Tesla chief executive.
His response: “I didn’t realize there was one. Will do.”
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a blog post on Wednesday, in his first comments since a user privacy crisis engulfed his company, that he had been “working to understand exactly what happened and how to make sure this doesn’t happen again”.
“The good news is that the most important actions to prevent this from happening again today we have already taken years ago. But we also made mistakes, there’s more to do, and we need to step up and do it.”
— CNNMoney (@CNNMoney) March 23, 2018
Facebook pages of SpaceX and Tesla, which had millions of followers, are no longer accessible. Users also challenged him to delete the profiles of his companies on Facebook’s photo-sharing app Instagram.
“Instagram’s probably ok … so long as it stays fairly independent,” Mr Musk responded.
“I don’t use FB & never have, so don’t think I’m some kind of martyr or my companies are taking a huge blow. Also, we don’t advertise or pay for endorsements, so … don’t care.
We’ve never advertised with FB. None of my companies buy advertising or pay famous people to fake endorse. Product lives or dies on its own merits.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 23, 2018
Mr Musk had begun the exchange by responding to a tweet from WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton on the deletefacebook hashtag.
The hashtag gained prominence after Facebook upset users by the reported mishandling of data.
“What’s Facebook?” Musk tweeted on Friday.
Musk and Zuckerberg not the best of friends
Musk has had run-ins with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in the past.
Last year, a war of words broke out between Mr Musk and Mr Zuckerberg over whether robots will become smart enough to kill their human creators.
When Mr Zuckerberg was asked about Mr Musk’s views on the dangers of robots, he chided “naysayers” whose “doomsday scenarios” were “irresponsible”.
In response, Mr Musk tweeted: “His understanding of the subject is limited.”