During a deposition his lawyer tried to keep confidential, Elon Musk says 'people are attacked all the time' on social media, but it rarely has 'a meaningful negative impact on their life'

Elon Musk steepling his hands and looking sombre.
(Image credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images)

A recent court deposition in the case between 22-year-old Ben Brody and the owner of Twitter, Elon Musk, has been made publicly available after a transcript was obtained by the Huffington Post.

First, some important context. The lawsuit, filed by Brody, relates to a reply to a since-deleted tweet June 27 of last year. Musk accused a brawl that broke out (between the far-right groups the Proud Boys and a local neo-Nazi organisation) during Pride Night Fest in Oregon City, June 24, as being a "probable false flag situation".

(Image credit: @elonmusk on Twitter/X.)

Musk theorised that two members in the footage looked like "a college student (who wants to join the government" and "maybe an Antifa member". This led to Brody being falsely accused of being a federal agent plant in the Rose City Nationalists, the local neo-nazi group in question. After another user falsely identified him as such, Musk responded: "Always remove their masks." 

Brody, who wasn't even in the state at the time, is seeking over $1 million in damages—and says that the harassment following Musk's seeming endorsement of Brody's false identification forced his family to move home. As for the deposition itself, it starts as it means to go on—that is to say, disastrously. 

"You're aware that Ben Brody is somebody who's sued you, right?" asks Brody's attorney Mark Bankston, to which Musk replies: "I think you're the one suing." 

Bankston corrects him, noting: "Actually, Mr. Musk, I'm an attorney. Did you know that? I'm an attorney representing Mr. Brody." Musk nonetheless insists that, in his opinion, Bankston is the one filing the lawsuit, and is "a lawyer seeking money", making him the "real plaintiff". Throughout the deposition itself, Bankston is continually interrupted by Alex Spiro, Musk's lawyer. 

"I am going to interrupt again," Spiro announces after several such interruptions, before asking how the tweet Bankston is referencing is relevant to the case. Bankston replies: "This is what he posted on the day of the brawl, and this case is about whether the brawl was being accused to be a psyop … Mr. Spiro, I really have to ask you to get yourself up to speed on the facts of this case."

Mr. Spiro argues: "This isn't a real case, this is just some stupid—" Brankston cuts him off. The conversation dovetails, and shortly after both Spiro and Musk ask Brankston why he's yelling.

(Image credit: Texas State Court / via Huffington Post)

Later in the deposition, Musk maintains that he hasn't caused Brody any serious harm. When asked if he understands the amount of views his tweet received equal "all 30 major league baseball stadiums filled to capacity", Musk replies:

"That may seem like a large number, but it is not compared to the fact—I believe there are something on the order of five to eight trillion views per year, so a million is really—" Bankston finishes his sentence with a "not a big deal?" to which Musk replies "Hit or miss, yeah."

As for allegations of harm caused, Musk argues that "people are attacked all the time in the media, online media, social media, but it is rare that that actually has a meaningful negative impact on their life." 

Regarding the financial implications of his comments, Musk fully admits: "I may have done more to financially impair the company than to help it, but certainly I—I do not guide my posts by what is financially beneficial but what I believe is interesting or important or entertaining to the public."

Towards the end of the disposition, Spiro replies to a question as to whether he would like a transcript: "Yes, and please mark it confidential." A baffled Bankston, more familiar with Texas law, responds: "What? No. There's no [protective order] in this case." 

Bankston concludes shortly after: "If they want to pursue a Rule 76 at a future time, I mean, I guess they're welcome to do that … we have no obligation to abide by any confidentiality, and we reject wholeheartedly Mr. Spiro's unilateral attempts to place us under some sort of legal obligation." 

Since you're reading this article, Spiro's attempts to keep the deposition quiet have clearly failed. I genuinely, wholeheartedly recommend you read the whole thing for yourself if you have the time to sift through the 108-page transcript—it's a genuinely fascinating window into the case, filled with far more bickering than one might expect. 

Harvey Randall
Staff Writer

Harvey's history with games started when he first begged his parents for a World of Warcraft subscription aged 12, though he's since been cursed with Final Fantasy 14-brain and a huge crush on G'raha Tia. He made his start as a freelancer, writing for websites like Techradar, The Escapist, Dicebreaker, The Gamer, Into the Spine—and of course, PC Gamer. He'll sink his teeth into anything that looks interesting, though he has a soft spot for RPGs, soulslikes, roguelikes, deckbuilders, MMOs, and weird indie titles. He also plays a shelf load of TTRPGs in his offline time. Don't ask him what his favourite system is, he has too many.