False news reports claim Elon Musk is dead after Tesla factory explosion

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Reports circulating on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram claim that tech entrepreneur Elon Musk is dead following a “Tesla factory explosion”. The claim is false; the reports are not genuine news articles and there are no credible reports of Musk’s death as of March 9, 2021. 

The report was shared in this Instagram post on March 6, 2021.

“Elon Musk declared dead after Tesla factory explosion,” the headline on an article featured in the post reads. The logo of Fox News is partly visible in the top-left corner. 

A screenshot of the misleading post as of March 7, 2021.

The same article screenshot was shared on Facebook, where the name of the purported author, Maria Quilam, is visible.

Meanwhile, this tweet features a headline which claims the tech entrepreneur — who is CEO of car firm Tesla and spacecraft manufacturer SpaceX — died following a “Tesla Battery Malfunction”.

However, the claim is false. The posts do not show genuine news reports and there are no credible reports of Musk’s death.

A Google search of the headline “Elon Musk declared dead after Tesla factory explosion” found no such article published by Fox News or any other mainstream news outlet.

AFP found no results for a journalist named Maria Quilam working at Fox News. 

There were also no matching news articles about an explosion when searching the headline “Elon Musk reportedly dead at 49 following Tesla Battery Malfunction”.

The author of the purported news article in that tweet, Avery Hartmans, is a genuine reporter for Business Insider.

Hartmans published an article on Musk on March 3, 2021, which uses the same header photo as the misleading news article, with a headline about Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Screenshot of fake article (left) and genuine article (right)

Musk is still active on Twitter since the false reports of his death emerged. He tweeted a photo of himself with his partner and son in Texas on March 8, 2021.

Furthermore, no statement on the matter has been released by Tesla or SpaceX