Tesla CEO Elon Musk. – © AFP Arif ALI
Sometimes it feels like it’s Elon Musk’s world and we just live in it.
The endlessly innovative, endlessly eccentric billionaire has struck a deal to buy Twitter — giving him control of the social media network on which the world debates, mobilizes and bickers.
It is just the latest conquest for Musk, who has revolutionized the car industry, sent his own rocket to space, built the world’s biggest fortune — and created fountains of moral outrage and celebrity gossip along the way.
Musk, 50, last year became the world’s richest person — taking the title from Amazon’s Jeff Bezos — following the meteoric rise of Tesla, his electric automaker founded in 2003.
His takeover of Twitter caps a rollercoaster of announcements and counter-announcements — which he characteristically punctuated by gleefully firing jabs at the company on its own platform.
And Musk’s new guise as a social media overlord will fuel controversy over his political views, business methods and outsized personality.
He is libertarian, anti-woke, impulsive and promotes himself as a champion of free speech. Some would call him right-wing, while his critics accuse him of being autocratic and bullying.
All this has come in a month in which Musk also made headlines with Tesla opening a “gigafactory” in Texas, after the company left California following a dispute over his efforts to defy a state shutdown of his plant to stop the spread of Covid-19.
And there’s more — his space transport firm SpaceX is currently breaking yet another boundary as a partner in a three-way venture that sent the first fully private mission to the International Space Station.
But Musk also makes news of a less flattering kind: Tesla has faced a series of lawsuits alleging discrimination and harassment against Black workers as well as sexual harassment.
In parallel with the whiplash-inducing stream of business news, Musk’s penchant for living by his own rules in the private sphere also keeps the world wide-eyed.
It recently emerged Musk has had a second child with his on-again off-again partner, the musician Grimes: a girl they named Exa Dark Sideræl Musk — although the parents will mostly call her Y.
He is even expected to make an appearance — in person or not — at the ongoing celebrity defamation trial pitting Johnny Depp against his ex-wife Amber Heard, who formerly dated Musk.
One way or another, Musk has become one of the most ubiquitous figures of the era. So how did he get where he is today?
– To Mars… and beyond? –
Born in Pretoria, on June 28, 1971, the son of an engineer father and a Canadian-born model mother, Musk left South Africa in his late teens to attend Queen’s University in Ontario.
He transferred to the University of Pennsylvania after two years and earned bachelor’s degrees in physics and business.
After graduating from the prestigious Ivy League school, Musk abandoned plans to study at Stanford University.
Instead, he dropped out and started Zip2, a company that made online publishing software for the media industry.
He banked his first millions before the age of 30 when he sold Zip2 to US computer maker Compaq for more than $300 million in 1999.
Musk’s next company, X.com, eventually merged with PayPal, the online payments firm bought by internet auction giant eBay for $1.5 billion in 2002.
After leaving PayPal, Musk embarked on a series of ever more ambitious ventures.
He founded SpaceX in 2002 — now serving as its chief executive officer and chief technology officer — and became the chairman of electric carmaker Tesla in 2004.
After some early crashes and near-misses, SpaceX perfected the art of landing booster engines on solid ground and ocean platforms, rendering them reusable, and late last year sent four tourists into space, on the first ever orbital mission with no professional astronauts on board.
Musk’s jokingly-named The Boring Company is touting an ultra-fast “Hyperloop” rail transport system that would transport people at near supersonic speeds.
And he has said he wants to make humans an “interplanetary species” by establishing a colony of people living on Mars.
To this end, SpaceX is developing a prototype rocket, Starship, which it envisages carrying crew and cargo to the Moon, Mars and beyond — with Musk saying he feels “confident” of an orbital test this year.
Musk, who holds US, Canadian and South African citizenship, has been married and divorced three times — once to the Canadian author Justine Wilson and twice to actress Talulah Riley. He has seven children. An eighth child died in infancy.
Forbes estimates his current net worth at $266 billion.
Pig butchering and the other peculiar cyber-scams on the rise
Pointing to a computer screen. Image by Tim Sandle.
The countdown to holiday period shopping is on. While sales are up, so are risks. Barclay’s estimate a 70 percent increase in scams the last year. Hence, consumers need to be even more vigilant with the deals they’re seeking out and the websites they are purchasing from.
To help Digital Journal readers be more mindful as to the key risk factors, James Walker, CEO at Rightly, explains the main issues. This includes an uptick in recent ‘brushing scams’ and fake reviews, as well as further details around other types of scams to watch out for.
Walker sees this period of time as providing ample situations for “Fraudsters to take advantage of innocent consumers. There are multiple tactics scammers use to convince people to part with their money, particularly in the run-up to a day which promises huge savings. One scam in particular we’ve been seeing an increase in is the so-called brushing scam in the lead up to the festive season, which involves unsuspecting people receiving unsolicited deliveries.”
Expanding on the strange deliveries, Walker says: “If you receive an unexpected package, it may be a scam that online sellers use to falsely inflate ratings and post fake reviews, and may mean your personal data has been compromised. If you have received an unexpected package from a company such as Amazon and suspect it to be a brushing scam, contact customer support directly. They can tell you whether your real account has been compromised and will cancel the fake account. The same goes for other marketplaces like eBay.”
Expanding on this tactic, Walker explains: “Unfortunately, such scams have also led to significant increase in fake reviews on Amazon, with an estimated 61 percent of all reviews classified as fake as fraudulent sellers try to manipulate buyers into making a purchase. Always be cautious when buying online and do as much background research as possible on a company or product before buying anything.”
Among the most prevalent scams, Walker cites:
Social media scams
This is where scammers take over your social profile, gaining access to influence your friends and family. But this is only the start of taking over someone’s life, this can lead to the opening of bank accounts and creating fake identities in your name.
This is when scammers buy a company for a reasonable amount and appear to trade, genuinely selling goods and services. They build up lots of sales, and then when the time is right, they move the money out and close down the business, leaving people out of pocket and either with fake goods or none at all.
Tickets to events
With the football World Cup taking place, it’s not too surprising to see that ticket scams are on the rise. Ticket selling scams happen when a scammer uses tickets as bait to steal your money. The scammer usually sells fake tickets, or you pay for a ticket, but never receive it. They are common when tickets for popular concerts, plays, and sporting events sell out. Additionally, scam artists purporting to represent musicians or bands have invited promoters to send offers for non-existent tour dates in a phishing email.
It sounds unpleasant, but so called ‘pig-butchering’ scams are on the rise. These scams happen when someone seemingly friendly and open befriends you online and over time, through a series of conversations, persuades you to part with money. It’s often a little at first, suggesting you put some cash into a ‘too-good-to-be-true’ investment. Only, of course, the investment is a scam and fraudulent.
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