4 December 2023

False: Elon Musk’s ‘buying TikTok’ tweet was created by modifying HTML

The user who made the fake tweet says it was created by changing HTML codes. As of now, Musk has not announced anything publicly about buying Douyin or TikTok, as far as Annie Lab can tell.

On Oct. 29, a Weibo post with a screenshot of Elon Musk’s tweet in Chinese claimed Musk allegedly announced he will acquire Douyin and TikTok.

Musk is known for tweeting posts in Chinese sometimes. His “tweet” reads, when translated to English, “Now I am going to buy Douyin, including both the Chinese version (Douyin) and the international version (TikTok). Afterwards, I would delete those stupid laughing sound effects and background music.”

The same screenshot was also shared on other Weibo posts (here and here). Together, they have close to 600 likes and over 20 shares.

However, the claim is false. The tweet was not posted by Elon Musk. It is a prank tweet created by editing the HTML code.

The original version of this fake tweet was posted by a Weibo user “夏星繁” on April 28, along with a clarification that the content is “a prank [made] by modifying HTML code.”

The fabricated tweet was first posted in April. We added the “manipulated” watermark to avoid further misuse of the image.

This image became popular in October as multiple Weibo accounts reposted it following the news that Musk has completed the acquisition of Twitter.

The author apologized after realizing the screenshot had gone viral on Oct. 30 and added a red “prank” sign on the original image.

The user wrote, “I stated that it was a prank when I first posted it, but I didn’t think of putting a hoax sign on the screenshot. It caused confusion after being shared.”

Annie Lab replicated the process to demonstrate how easy it is to modify HTML code to create a fake tweet and a screenshot in the video below:

Since Musk offered to buy Twitter in April, there have been many other fake tweets made to appear from his official account.

Previous examples have been fact-checked here and here by Indian fact-checking organizations vishvashnews.com and News Mobile.

Some of these tweets could have been confusing for some users because sometimes similar posts can be authentic. For instance, he did joke about buying Coca-Cola earlier this year.

Annie Lab could not verify whether or not Musk is indeed interested in acquiring Douyin or TikTok, but we can confirm that the image in question shows a made-up tweet.

Musk completed the acquisition of Twitter for $44 billion in October resulting in layoffs.

Douyin – including its international version Tiktok – is one of the most downloaded and profitable apps in the world and has reached approximately 3.3 billion installs globally.