Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks to CNBC, May 16, 2023.

David A. Grogan | CNBC

Twitter suspended the accounts of PlainSite and its founder Aaron Greenspan, the prolific Tesla and Elon Musk critic, Tuesday afternoon.

PlainSite is an online database that makes state and federal court filings and other public records available to users for free. The site also offers paying subscribers analytics features designed to help lawyers and litigants obtain information about lawyers, judges, government agencies and laws.

Greenspan has closely followed lawsuits by or against companies mostly in the US, including Tesla, Twitter – which Musk took private in an acquisition last year – as well as competitors. GM, Target and countless others. He and Musk have also been involved in lawsuits over the years.

At the time the PlainSite account was suspended, it boasted more than 24,000 registered Twitter followers. Greenspan’s personal account had about 2,500 followers.

The suspension contradicts public statements by Twitter executive chairman and CTO Elon Musk and newly appointed CEO Linda Yaccarino. Yaccarino was previously global head of advertising at NBCUniversal, CNBC’s parent company.

In April 2022, after Musk announced his intention to acquire Twitter, he tweeted, “I hope even my worst critics stay on Twitter because that’s what free speech is all about.”

Lately, Yaccarino wrote in a company-wide message that a healthy civilization needs “unfiltered information exchange and open dialogue about the things that matter most to us.” She also said in the note: “You should have the freedom to express your opinion. We all should.”

Greenspan told CNBC on Thursday that he has not yet received information from Twitter about why the company suspended his accounts, although he has requested that both be reinstated.

He also discussed some of the reasons he founded the “legal transparency initiative” PlainSite and how he came to be considered an enemy of Elon Musk.

“I created PlainSite with two friends in 2011 because we were all wondering why Occupy Wall Street wasn’t having the impact we expected,” he recalled. “No CFOs went to jail because of the financial crisis in 2008, even though it was really obvious that there was a crime somewhere. We thought people didn’t understand what the law said and what the loopholes were that banks or executives they have.” capable of abuse to absolve himself of responsibility.”

Over the years, Greenspan has shorted stocks in some of the companies he researched and wrote about on PlainSite, disclosing those positions while he held them. Tesla is not lower today, but it was in the past, he said.

Why PlainSite became interested in Tesla

PlainSite began its targeted investigation into Tesla in 2018 after the US Securities and Exchange Commission charged Musk and Tesla with securities fraud.

The charges came after Musk said on Twitter that he was considering taking over Tesla for $420 a share and had the financing secured to do so, halting trading that day and sending Tesla shares into a period of volatility for several weeks.

Musk and Tesla settled the charges with regulators without admitting guilt or claiming innocence.

Greenspan said, “I wasn’t interested in Tesla until the SEC cracked down on the company and Elon that year. That led me to think that it might be overvalued, given that it got into trouble with financial regulators.”

The Twitter community, including short sellers and other experts who were interested in what Tesla was doing, became frequent users and subscribers to PlainSite.

Court files and public records easily searched by PlainSite often revealed details about Tesla’s problems and tactics. PlainSite records obtained through FOIA requests have been widely cited by the press including CNBC, Reuters, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and many others.

As of 2018, Greenspan has been making court filings and other public records available on PlainSite that revealed:

  • Twitter is facing more than 25 lawsuits non-payment to vendors since Elon Musk’s takeover in October 2022.
  • Even as Musk continually promised shareholders that Tesla was on the verge of delivering a “Level 4-5” self-driving robot taxi, Autopilot engineers categorized its most advanced driver assistance systems as “Level 2” in official government communications with California DMV. A level 2 system is not self-driving. It requires drivers to keep their hands on the steering wheel.
  • Complaints sent to Attorneys General v TexasNevada and Ohioindicating that Tesla customers there were unable to get the electric vehicle manufacturer to provide the required documentation to register their vehicles with their local DMVs.
  • Musk once tried to refer a former process engineer at the Tesla Gigafactory, whistleblower Martin Tripp, to the US Attorney’s office for the District of Nevada. to criminal prosecution (p. 192).
  • Musk knew, but did not tell shareholders, that SolarCity was facing a liquidity crisis at a time when Tesla’s board was pursuing an acquisition of the solar installer started by Musk’s first cousins, in which Musk was a major investor and board member.

In May 2020 Greenspan sued Tesla’s promoter allegations of harassment and named Musk as a contributory party to that harassment in the lawsuit.

In February 2023 Musk sued Greenspan for posting correspondence between the two on Twitter and PlainSite. Emails are still available on PlainSite.

Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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