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Elon Musk biography author walks back claim before book's release

Musk said that his company SpaceX "did not deactivate anything."

Published: September 13, 2023 1:49pm

Walter Isaacson walked back a claim he made about Elon Musk in a biography of the Tesla CEO before the book was even published. 

When "Elon Musk" hit the shelves Tuesday, it included a part stating that Musk "secretly told his engineers" to turn off the Starlink satellite internet system last year off of the coast of Crimea over concerns that a planned Ukrainian drone attack on Russia could spark a nuclear war.

Musk said last week that his company SpaceX "did not deactivate anything," but that the Ukrainian government had asked him to activate Starlink in the area. 

"If I had agreed to their request, then SpaceX would be explicitly complicit in a major act of war and conflict escalation," Musk also said on his platform, X.

Isaacson wrote on X after Musk's post that "the Ukrainians THOUGHT coverage was enabled all the way to Crimea, but it was not."

"Based on my conversations with Musk, I mistakenly thought the policy to not allow Starlink to be used for an attack on Crimea had been first decided on the night of the Ukrainian attempted sneak attack that night," Isaacson followed up. "He now says that the policy had been implemented earlier, but the Ukrainians did not know it, and that night he simply reaffirmed the policy."

A spokesperson for publisher Simon & Schuster said Monday that future editions of the book would be updated to correct the error, according to CNN.

Follow Madeleine Hubbard on X or Instagram.

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