Elon Musk’s Twitter has banned the top critic of Tesla’s Full Self-Driving (FSD) software from promoting videos of critical safety defects in Tesla’s flagship software. The promoted tweets included videos of Tesla Full Self-Driving failing to stop at Stop signs, ignoring Do Not Enter signs, and running down lifelike child and Labrador mannequins.
Twitter cited an unnamed “policy violation”, and did not provide any further details.
Safety-critical software expert Dan O’Dowd, founder of public safety advocacy group The Dawn Project, was banned from advertising on Twitter following two recently promoted tweets that exposed critical safety defects in Tesla’s Full Self-Driving software.
Over the last year, The Dawn Project has run hundreds of tests, created dozens of videos demonstrating the safety defects in Tesla’s Full Self-Driving software, and publicized them widely. Tesla condemned the tests as fake, Elon branded Dan O’Dowd as “bat shit crazy”, and Tesla took no discernible action to fix the safety defects, leaving many doubting The Dawn Project’s tests’ validity.
In June, The Dawn Project set up an open-invitation event to bring Tesla’s supporters and the media together to demonstrate that the tests are valid and the safety critical defects in the software are a serious concern.
Ross Gerber, a prominent Tesla investor, challenged Dan O’Dowd to test drive his Full Self-Driving Tesla. Dan accepted. The test drive was live streamed to tens of thousands of viewers and was recorded from every angle by 19 cameras to ensure complete transparency. Gerber was repeatedly told by other Tesla supporters not to participate in a transparent event for fear of exposing the true dangers of Tesla’s Full Self-Driving software to the general public and destroying its reputation.
During Dan O’Dowd’s test drive with Gerber, the self-driving Tesla blew past a Stop sign at 35 mph and would have T-boned another vehicle had Gerber not slammed on the brakes.
A tweet with a video of this incident showed the public that The Dawn Project’s tests were genuine and debunked Tesla’s claims that they were faked. The tweet went viral and was viewed over 25 million times. There was then a live debate between Dan and Ross on CNBC, where the safety defects and viability of Tesla Full Self-Driving were broadcast to all of Wall Street.
The Dawn Project also invited journalists and former Tesla self-driving tester, John Bernal, who now runs the YouTube channel AI Addict to participate in the live streamed and independently verified demonstration.
In these tests, the self-driving Tesla ran down lifelike child and labrador mannequins at fatal speeds, clearly demonstrating the undeniable dangers that the software poses.
The Dawn Project tweeted a video of this test and got it approved for promotion on Twitter. However, when this tweet also started to go viral after a couple of hours on July 7, Dan O’Dowd’s account was banned from advertising on Twitter, without alerting him.
Commenting on his Twitter account being banned from advertising, Dan O’Dowd said: “I have been advertising The Dawn Project’s messages on Twitter since before Elon bought it. I was even awarded a gold check for being a top Twitter advertiser.
“When Elon bought Twitter he claimed he was a “free speech absolutist” and said that he hoped that even his “worst critics remain on Twitter, because that is what free speech means”. In suppressing my advertising, Elon Musk has once again shown his hypocrisy when it comes to matters of free speech on Twitter. It is clear that the platform is now descending into an Elon-censored echo chamber by suppressing valid criticism.
“Elon sees that our transparent tests are teaching the public, and even his own supporters, that Tesla’s defective Full Self-Driving software is not “safer than a human driver” and will not “save millions of lives”. As he lost control of the public perception of Tesla Full Self-Driving, he slammed the brakes on our advertising campaign.
“This whole incident demonstrates that our tests are valid and the dangers posed by Tesla Full Self-Driving are severe and immediate and Tesla is not doing anything about it.”