A Decade of Elon Musk's Tweets, Visualized
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A Decade of Elon Musk’s Tweets, Visualized

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A Decade of Elon Musk's Tweets, Visualized

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An Analysis of Elon Musk’s Entire Twitter Feed

Elon Musk is known for many things, but one of his most buzzworthy claims to fame is his online Twitter presence.

Because of its candid nature, Musk’s Twitter feed provides the public with a unique opportunity to catch an unfiltered look into his eccentric mind.

What can we learn from an in-depth look at Elon Musk’s Twitter feed? What subjects does he focus on the most, and how has his Twitter use changed over the past decade?

We sifted through his entire tweet history to find out.

Why Bother?

To gain a high-level understanding of Musk’s Twitter profile, our research team sifted through his entire Twitter feed and compiled 15,000 of his tweets into a comprehensive dataset.

Why go to all the effort? Here are a few reasons why we spent months sifting through Elon Musk’s Twitter feed:

  • People care about what he has to say: Musk has over 77 million followers on Twitter, and his account is currently the 11th most followed (coming in between Ellen DeGeneres and Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India). Even run-of-the-mill replies to regular Twitter users receive thousands of shares, likes, and comments. Clearly, people are interested in his ideas and interactions.
  • Musk tweets often, and candidly: These days, it’s not uncommon for Musk to share more than 30 tweets in a single day. And his Twitter conversations cover a wide range of topics, from serious conversations about technical aspects of his products to lighthearted memes. This is highly unusual for a person in his position.
  • Some of his tweets have had a big impact: Elon’s tweets consistently make headlines and ruffle the feathers of big shots in business and politics. Elon’s Twitter fingers have moved the needle on everything from Tesla’s stock price to cryptocurrency markets.
  • He’s become a public icon: He’s currently the richest person in the world, and last year, he was named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year. The companies that Musk runs are also hugely influential and disruptive. In other words, no matter how you feel about him personally, he’s a pretty big deal.

Because of the above, we thought digging into the depths of Elon Musk’s Twitter feed was a worthy pursuit. Below, we’ll get into our methodology, and how we went about analyzing the mountains of tweets.

How We Did It: Notes on Our Methodology

Once we scraped a decade worth of Elon Musk tweets, we dug through the data and sorted the information to answer two main questions:

  1. What are Elon Musk’s most tweeted topics?
  2. How has his Twitter activity changed over the years?

To answer the first question, we sorted Elon’s tweets into categories (based on keywords) and ranked each category based on the volume of mentions.

The results are visualized in the circle chart in the middle of the graphic, which shows Musk’s most tweeted subjects over the last decade.

To answer our second question (how has Elon’s Twitter activity changed over the years) we sorted Elon’s feed into three main topics—Tesla, SpaceX, and everything else—and showed which topics dominated his feed each year.

Main Takeaways from the Analysis

Perhaps unsurprisingly, we found that the two main things Elon talks about the most are Tesla and SpaceX. He’s mentioned both companies consistently over the last decade, and as the timeline shows, Tesla and SpaceX take turns in the spotlight, depending on what’s going on for the companies at the time.

While the topics and themes of his content have remained fairly consistent, the frequency of tweets has grown over the years.

YearNumber of tweetsBusiest month on Twitter
201142December (42)
2012270May (36)
2013422May (118)
2014189April (36)
2015617October (132)
2016736July (126)
20171,162December (197)
20182,288May (384)
20192,933April (373)
20203,367July (446)
20213,113July (402)

Musk now uses Twitter very consistently, tweeting at least once on all but 14 days in 2021. His follower count has growth steadily over the years too:

elon musk twitter follower growth

As the above graphic shows, his follower growth started to escalate between late 2017 and mid-2018 as Musk began to burst into the public consciousness. Why? A lot was happening both personally and professionally for the busy founder:

    • December 2017: Announcement on Twitter that the Boring Company was planning to release a limited edition flamethrower. 20,000 units were sold before the product was discontinued.
    • February 2018: Tesla Roadster was launched into space.
    • July 2018: 12 boys and their teacher get trapped in a cave in Thailand, and Elon gets heavily involved in efforts to try and rescue them. This includes an awkward—now deleted—tweet referring to a British cave diver as a pedophile. (Musk later won a defamation case in 2019.)
    • August 2018: Elon announces on Twitter that he’s considering taking Tesla private at $420 a share. Tesla’s share price promptly dropped after this now infamous tweet was sent.
    • Sept 2018: Musk appears on Joe Rogan’s podcast, and smokes weed with him. The spectacle grabs headlines after the podcast is published.
    • From 2016 to 2018: A highly publicized, on-again-off-again relationship with actress Amber Heard.

No matter how outlandish or shocking his comments have been, Musk’s companies continue to see success, and people have continued to show interest in keeping up with the founder’s thoughts—and dank memes—on Twitter.

Highlights (and Lowlights) of Musk’s Twitter History

In the next section below, we’ll cover some of Elon’s most iconic Twitter moments, hand-selected by our research team.

The End of the Fake Elon Era

Elon Musk’s first real tweet was shared in 2010. Prior to that, someone was pretending to be him and using the Twitter handle @elonmusk to tweet random and controversial things.

Luckily, the imposter didn’t gain much traction, and the real Elon Musk cleared the air on June 4, 2010, with a tweet announcing his authentic arrival onto the platform:

After this initial tweet, Musk didn’t tweet again until the end of 2011, though his account was still verified that year. His Twitter activity remained relatively low until 2012.

A Splashdown to Remember

In May 2012, Musk went to Twitter to share his excitement after the Dragon spacecraft successfully returned home.

This landing made history, as SpaceX became the first commercial spacecraft to deliver cargo to the International Space Station.

The engagement on this tweet highlights how much larger Musk’s audience is today. The tweet above, which is highlighting some very exciting news, only has about 350 retweets.

The Boring Company Flamethrower

In late 2017, Musk started selling Boring Company merchandise, mostly as a joke. But products were selling, and Elon decided to take things one step further, and announced to Twitter that he’d release a Boring Company flamethrower if 50,000 Boring branded hats sold:

The hats did sell out, so true to his word, Musk released a limited edition flamethrower at $500 bucks apiece. All 20,000 units sold out.

The $20 Million Quip

In August 2018, Musk told Twitter that he was considering taking Tesla private, at $420 a share.

This tweet was a cheeky reference to marijuana, but it ended up costing a fortune. The SEC sued him with fraudulent charges, claiming this irresponsible tweet misled investors.

He ended up paying millions in fines, and had to step down as Tesla’s chairman as a result of the drama.

Candid COVID Opinions

Musk hasn’t been shy about sharing his thoughts on the global pandemic. On March 6, 2020, he tweeted “the coronavirus panic is dumb.” Since then, he’s been vocal about his distrust in antigen tests, and isn’t afraid to share his frustrations around lockdowns with his followers:

He’s also said that the virus isn’t that deadly and that COVID-19 related deaths were inflated because doctors were wrongfully attributing deaths to the virus instead of other causes.

Becoming the World’s Richest Human

In 2021, Musk surpassed Jeff Bezos to become the richest person in the world. His reaction was quite understated. In response to a tweet from @teslaownersSV sharing the news, he simply said, “how strange.”

From there, he tweeted:

Musk is still currently the richest person on the planet as of this article’s publication date, with a net worth of $213 billion.

Bitcoin Boost

Elon Musk’s foray into Bitcoin boosterism ramped up on January 29, 2021, when he added “#bitcoin” to his Twitter profile page, a move that appeared to have an impact on the price of BTC.

Days later, Musk announced that Tesla acquired $1.5 billion in bitcoin, with plans to accept it as payment.

The news caused the price of Bitcoin to jump 17% to $44,000, a record high at the time. Bitcoin remained in the spotlight through the year as the cryptocurrency continued to gather support from major financial institutions.

Just days prior, Musk also added fuel to the speculative fire surrounding the GameStop stock. By simply tweeting the word “Gamestonk” paired with a link to Reddit’s infamous r/wallstreetbets, GME’s price exploded more than 150% higher.

The Multi-Billion Dollar Question

After facing backlash over his significant stockpile of wealth, Musk turned to Twitter to ask users if he should sell 10% of his Tesla stock in order to pay taxes.

The majority of Twitter users voted yes, and the billionaire actually followed through and sold more than $16 billion worth of Tesla stock.

Reconnecting Ukraine

In late February, as Russia launched its offensive in Ukraine, Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Digital Transformation called the SpaceX founder out on Twitter, asking for support.

Musk would reply within 24 hours, and soon after, Fedorov would tweet a photo of Starlink terminals arriving safely in the country.

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Misc

Visualizing the Odds of Dying from Various Accidents

This infographic shows you the odds of dying from a variety of accidents, including car crashes, bee stings, and more.

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Infographic: The Odds of Dying from Various Accidents

Fatal accidents account for a significant number of deaths in the U.S. every year. For example, nearly 43,000 Americans died in traffic accidents in 2021.

Without the right context, however, it can be difficult to properly interpret these figures.

To help you understand your chances, we’ve compiled data from the National Safety Council, and visualized the lifetime odds of dying from various accidents.

Data and Methodology

The lifetime odds presented in this graphic were estimated by dividing the one-year odds of dying by the life expectancy of a person born in 2020 (77 years).

Additionally, these numbers are based on data from the U.S., and likely differ in other countries.

Type of AccidentLifetime odds of dying (1 in #)
Motor vehicle accident101
Complications of medical and surgical care798
Alcohol poisoning1,606
Accidental building fire1,825
Choking on food2,745
Drowning in swimming pool5,782
Sunstroke6,368
Accidental firearm discharge7,998
Drowning10,386
Airplane accident11,756
Bee or wasp sting57,825
Dog attack69,016
Lightning strike138,849

For comparison’s sake, the odds of winning the Powerball jackpot are 1 in 292,000,000. In other words, you are 4000x more likely to die by a lightning strike over your lifetime than to win the Powerball lottery.

Continue reading below for further context on some of these accidents.

Motor Vehicle Accidents

Motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of accidental deaths in the U.S., with a 1 in 101 chance of dying. This is quite a common way of dying, especially when compared to something like bee stings (1 in 57,825).

Unfortunately, a major cause of vehicle deaths is impaired driving. The CDC reports that 32 Americans are killed every day in crashes involving alcohol, which equates to one death every 45 minutes.

For further context, consider this: 30% of all traffic-related deaths in 2020 involved alcohol-impaired drivers.

Drowning

The odds of drowning in a swimming pool (1 in 5,782) are significantly higher than those of drowning in general (1 in 10,386). According to the CDC, there are 4,000 fatal drownings every year, which works out to 11 deaths per day.

Drowning also happens to be a leading cause of death for children. It is the leading cause for kids aged 1-4, and second highest cause for kids aged 5-14.

A rather surprising fact about drowning is that 80% of fatalities are male. This has been attributed to higher rates of alcohol use and risk-taking behaviors.

Accidental Firearm Discharge

Lastly, let’s look at accidental firearm deaths, which have lifetime odds of 1 in 7,998. That’s higher than the odds of drowning (general), as well as dying in an airplane accident.

This shouldn’t come as a major surprise, since the U.S. has the highest rates of gun ownership in the world. More importantly, these odds highlight the importance of properly securing one’s firearms, as well as learning safe handling practices.

As a percentage of total gun-related deaths (45,222 in 2020), accidental shootings represent a tiny 1%. The two leading causes are suicide (54%) and homicide (43%).

Interested in learning more about death? Revisit one of our most popular posts of all time: Visualizing the History of Pandemics.

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