Elon Musk vs Mark Zuckerberg Feud: Timeline of the tech giants' beef

Million Dollar Babies: How long-running childish beef between Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk ended up with a bout in a caged fighting ring

  • The owners of Twitter and Facebook look set for a cage fight after historic ‘beef’
  • But the conflict goes back as far as a failed launch by Elon Musk’s SpaceX in 2016
  • Find out what happened between then and now by reading below 

Mark Zuckerberg appears to have accepted Elon Musk’s challenge to a cage fight after the pair’s most recent online spat.

The two are some of the richest people on the planet, with Musk recently the world’s richest man. 

Their ‘beef’ dates back to 2016, when Zuckerberg was left unimpressed by Musk’s SpaceX failing to launch an internet satellite.

Since then, they have not been subtle in their digs at each other about artificial intelligence (AI) or rockets.

Find out all the  stages of this petty feud below.

Mark Zuckerberg is reportedly ‘serious’ about fighting his tech rival after seemingly agreeing to a face-off in the octagon

Elon Musk reacted to Zuckerberg’s latest business developments by challenging the Meta CEO to a ‘cage match’

Musk’s chances are already being doubted by spectators online who cite Zuckerberg’s jiu-jitsu background as reason to back the Facebook billionaire

September 2016

The beef began in September 2016, after Elon Musk’s SpaceX rocket was due to be delivering a satellite to space.

The AMOS-6 satellite was owned by Internet.org, which was in turn owned by Zuckerberg and Facebook, and was intended to provide internet coverage to parts of Africa.

However, the Falcon 9 rocked exploded during tests on September 1 days before the planned launch due to an ‘anomaly’, and took the satellite with it.

Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page in reaction that he was ‘deeply disappointed’ by the destruction of the satellite which ‘would have provided connectivity to so many,’ in a pointed statement.

It took Musk two years to directly respond to the comments, saying it was ‘my fault for being an idiot.’


The following year, the pair were involved in a war of words regarding AI, beginning with Zuckerberg labeling the Twitter CEO’s negativity on the topic ‘pretty irresponsible’ during a Facebook live stream. 

But the Tesla man responded swiftly by saying that Zuckerberg’s knowledge of the topic was ‘limited’ and claiming the two had discussed it together.

Musk was known at the time for his reluctance to embrace AI over fear about jobs, while Zuckerberg believed in its ability to help humanity become safer and healthier.

Zuckerberg labeled the Twitter CEO’s negativity on AI ‘pretty irresponsible’ during a Facebook live stream in 2017

March 2018

The next development was another year later, when Musk publicly deleted his company’s Facebook profiles as the social media network was embroiled in the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

What is the Cambridge Analytica scandal?

Consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica had offices in London, New York, Washington, as well as Brazil and Malaysia.

The company boasted it can ‘find your voters and move them to action’ through data-driven campaigns and a team that includes data scientists and behavioural psychologists. 

In 2013, Cambridge professor Aleksandr Kogan used his app, This Is Your Digital Life, to ask 270,000 Facebook users questions about their personalities.

By answering them, the users granted Kogan access to not only their profiles but to those of their friends.

He subsequently sold that information to Cambridge Analytica for $51million.

Facebook changed its rules in 2014 to limit what data such apps could access.

A year later, the company learned that Kogan had sold his findings and contacted both him and Cambridge Analytica to tell them to delete the data which they promised to do.

In March, Facebook made its announcement that it had suspended Cambridge Analytica after being warned of looming media reports that claimed not all of the information had been destroyed.

Those reports, which were informed by the accounts of whistleblowers who worked at the firm, also revealed the true scale of the breach.  

It was initially estimated that the firm was able to mine the information of 55 million Facebook users even though just 270,000 people gave them permission to do so.

But Facebook later since revealed the number was actually as high as 87 million. 

The data firm suspended its chief executive, Alexander Nix, after recordings emerged of him making a series of controversial claims, including boasts that Cambridge Analytica had a pivotal role in the election of Donald Trump.

The same information is said to have been used to help the Brexit campaign in the UK.  

SpaceX and Tesla’s pages were both deleted, after Musk claimed he previously ‘didn’t realise there was one.’ 

Musk insisted, however, that it was not a political statement, rather that Facebook ‘gives me the willies.’

February 2020

Musk responded to a tweet by actor Sacha Baron Cohen, calling for more regulation of Facebook, by urging people to delete the app. 

Baron Cohen’s tweet asked: ‘Why do we let one man control the information seen by 2.5 million people?’ 

January 2021

After the January 6 riots at Washington’s Capitol, Musk shared content linking the chaos to Facebook.

The evening of the attack, Musk shared an image of a set of dominoes with the first one labeled ‘a website to rate women on campus’, in reference to the invention of Facebook at Harvard University, and the last referencing the rioters.

He also, once again, tweeted about Facebook’s data sharing history, sharing a meme implying that Facebook ‘spies’ on its users in response to news that Facebook and WhatsApp accounts would be required to share data after the acquisition of the messaging platform.

April 2022

While Musk was in discussions to take over twitter in 2022, he found time to take aim at the Facebook CEO, mocking his control over Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp.

The jab was a response to a question about whether it was dangerous for him, the world’s richest man at the time, to take over such a powerful platform.

Must said that Zuckerberg was ‘worse’ and jokingly called him the ‘Sun King.’ 

Musk took aim at Zuckerberg over his ownership of all of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp in 2022 as he tried to buy Twitter

May 2023

Earlier this year, Musk was firing shots at Zuckerberg again, saying that ‘WhatsApp cannot be trusted’ in claims that the app was listening in to its users.

A user of the app had tweeted alleging that the messaging app had accessed their phone’s microphone overnight.

However, WhatsApp said that this was down to an Android bug, and Google acknowledged that fact. 

This incident came not log after Musk had, once again, criticised Zuckerberg, this time for his donations to the Democrat party.

June 20

Details emerged of Zuckerberg’s Meta planning to launch a rival to Twitter called ‘Threads’ in an attempt to capitalise on the chaos caused by Musk’s ownership of Twitter.

Meta’s chief product officer Chris Cox told Meta employees that they were hearing of a desire for ‘a platform that is sanely ruin.’

Musk did not take kindly to the suggestion that Meta, owned by Zuckerberg, would be launching a rival to Twitter called ‘Threads’

June 21

Musk responded to the reports saying that ‘I’m sure Earth can’t wait,’ saying it would leave people ‘with no other options.’

One follower replied warning Musk of being so antagonistic given the Meta CEO’s jiu-jitsu background.

Musk seemed unfased, saying ‘I’m up for a cage match if he is.’

June 22

Zuckerberg shared a screenshot of Musk’s invitation to fight on his Instagram Story, and said ‘send me location,’ echoing UFC legend Khabib Nurmagomedov, indicating that the fight could be on.

Musk obliged, suggesting a UFC octagon in Las Vegas.

If the figures involved were not divisive enough, Andrew Tate, recently charged for rape and human trafficking in Romania, waded in to offer his services to Musk as his trainer.

The former kick-boxer tweeted: ‘Meta banned me everywhere… But now we can restore honour.’

Tate has the small matter of being under house-arrest ahead of a potential trial that could thwart this though. 

Tale of the tape




Fighting skills                        

Net worth (reported)

Most aggressive moment 

 Mark Zuckerberg



Jiu-Jitsu tournament medalist 

 $100 billion

Winning real-life fights  

 Elon Musk




 $233.8 billion

 Firing 3,700 Twitter employees at once

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