Elon Musk tweets, ‘Time to break up Amazon’ as he defends author in dispute over COVID-19 book

Elon Musk
Elon Musk takes a bow after successful launch of SpaceX Crew Dragon Demo-2 mission on May 30 in Florida. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Elon Musk jumped to the defense of an author on Twitter on Thursday who was claiming that his book submission was “censored” by Amazon. The Tesla and SpaceX founder tweeted, “Time to break up Amazon. Monopolies are wrong!”

Musk, who tweeted Monday that he would be “off Twitter for a while,” was back in all his usual controversial force on Thursday. He called the decision by Kindle Direct Publishing “insane” in a tweet in which he tagged Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos.

Musk was mixing things up after former New York Times journalist Alex Berenson tweeted that Amazon refused to publish his booklet about the coronavirus.

Berenson shared a screen grab of an apparent email from Kindle Direct Publishing which was titled “Alert from Amazon KDP Content Review.” That email said Berenson’s “Unreported Truths about COVID-19 and Lockdowns: Part 1: Introduction and Death Counts and Estimates” did not comply with unspecified guidelines and would therefore not be offered for sale.

Perhaps the Twitter backlash was effective.

In tweets after his initial complaints and shortly after Musk weighed in, Berenson tweeted that Amazon “BACKED DOWN!”

Berenson has gained attention during the ongoing pandemic for his views about who is really susceptible to being infected by the coronavirus and whether social distancing guidelines made any sense. Vanity Fair magazine called him the right’s “go-to coronavirus skeptic” and cited a connection to Musk.

“In perhaps the peak of his fame, Berenson was cited by another self-professed ‘half Democrat, half Republican,’” Vanity Fair wrote in April. “Elon Musk shared Berenson’s theories on the supposed inflation of coronavirus infection rates and death tolls. Weeks prior, Musk had written on Twitter that ‘the coronavirus panic is dumb.’”

Some speculated that Musk’s desire to see Amazon broken up goes beyond a reaction to one author’s book denial by the tech giant.

Musk is competing with Amazon and Bezos on a number of levels, both on Earth and off. Amazon has invested heavily in Rivian, an electric vehicle maker which could produce 100,000 vans for the company’s delivery fleet.

And SpaceX, which is competing against Amazon’s Project Kuiper satellite program, has had at least three spats with Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture. One involved a launchpad lease with NASA; another was over a patent for a water-based recovery pad for rockets; and a third was a Twitter dust-up over the landings of rockets by the two space rivals.

Musk certainly isn’t the first to call for the breakup of the tech giant. At the height of her run for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sen. Elizabeth Warren made constant calls to break apart Amazon, which she said has “used its immense market power” to bully smaller competitors.

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