When Twitter users logged on Monday morning, they found that the social media site’s famous avian logo had been replaced by Doge, a shiba inu made famous by a decade-old meme.
For many, it begged a simple question: “WTF?”
In fact, the logo swap appears connected to an ongoing racketeering lawsuit accusing Twitter CEO and Tesla co-founder Elon Musk of deliberately jacking up the price of Dogecoin—a cryptocurrency branded with the iconic canine—and defrauding investors. A day earlier, Musk had asked a Manhattan judge to dismiss the $258 billion suit.
The logo stunt sent Dogecoin’s value soaring by 20%—the very thing that the investors suing Musk accuse him of doing.
Was Musk flipping the bird at the plaintiffs? It wouldn’t be out of character.
The appearance of Doge on Twitter’s homepage is the latest example of the mercurial billionaire, currently the world’s second richest man, running the social media giant in a way that, at times, resembles a big prank.
Entering Twitter HQ – let that sink in! pic.twitter.com/D68z4K2wq7— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 26, 2022
Twitter could not be reached for comment, as the company now automatically responds to all press inquiries with an emoji depicting a smiling pile of excrement.
On the social media platform, Musk offered a different explanation for the logo change: He was doing it for the lulz.
As promised pic.twitter.com/Jc1TnAqxAV— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 3, 2023
Dogecoin was created in 2013 by two software engineers as a joke. Since then—like many cryptocurrencies—it has experienced a series of booms and busts.
April 3, 2023
But Dogecoin has had one unexpected advantage over its competition: a great deal of interest from Musk. Since 2019, he has repeatedly tweeted (at times, cheekily) in support of the alternative to fiat currency.
Dogecoin might be my fav cryptocurrency. It’s pretty cool.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 2, 2019
I will eat a happy meal on tv if @McDonalds accepts Dogecoin— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 25, 2022
Those tweets drove up the value of Dogecoin. And that, the investors allege in the lawsuit, represents an illegal pyramid scheme.
They accuse Musk of intentionally inflating the price of Dogecoin by 36,000% over two years through publicity stunts to attract new investors. But then, the plaintiffs say, the billionaire allowed the virtual coin’s value to crash after “there were no more new people to buy into the pyramid.”
Musk and the Dogecoin Foundation, the nonprofit that manages the cryptocurrency, “have profited billions of dollars from the trading of Dogecoin due to their market manipulation at the expense of Plaintiffs,” their complaint says.
In a motion to dismiss the case, filed on March 31, Musk and the Dogecoin Foundation called the suit “a fanciful work of fiction” and described Musk’s tweets in support of Dogecoin as “innocuous and often silly.”
“But there is nothing unlawful about tweeting words of support for, or funny pictures about, a legitimate cryptocurrency that continues to hold a market cap of nearly $10 billion,” Musk’s motion read.
Previously, a San Francisco court did not find Musk legally liable for his Twitter hijinks. In February, a jury ruled that he had not misled investors when he tweeted in 2018 that he had found the funds to take Tesla private, Reuters reported. Tesla shareholders said that tweet had cost them billions of dollars.
Matthew Kupfer can be reached at [email protected]