Tesla’s problem with toxic fandom is starting to give the community a bad name as some stories of attacks against other electric vehicles go mainstream.
The Detroit Free Press came out with a new article today headlined, “Tesla owner with Mustang Mach-E reports threats on social media from Tesla fans.”
It includes several reports from new Mustang Mach-E owners and reviewers receiving disturbing comments from Tesla fans about their review of the new electric vehicle:
“”One was, like, ‘I hope the car loses control and crashes.’ Or ‘The car is going to catch fire when you’re driving it,’” he said. “I took that as a threat. For you to have any kind of ill will on anybody, why would you say that? Then someone privately messaged me, ‘You’re full of s*** and I know what your Tesla looks like. If I see it …’ That private message on Facebook was more threatening.””
Most of the comments were coming from the same well-known Tesla fans on Facebook and Twitter.
Some of those positive reviews of the Mach-E came from Tesla owners and fans who became disillusioned by the community’s response:
“Before I knew it, about 65% of the comments were just bashing me,” he said. “Part of me wants to get rid of my Tesla just not to have the association. A couple here and there, OK. But folks are commenting and saying disgusting things. ‘You let big oil buy you?’ and ‘How much are people paying you?’ If that’s what’s associated with being a Tesla owner, why do I want to be part of that group? It’s not cool.”
In some of the most extreme cases, people reported receiving death threats for the positive comments on the Mustang Mach-E.
Last year, we posted a controversial op-ed titled “Tesla superfandom becomes toxic, negative for electric revolution.”
It explored the problem with the rise of a group of Tesla superfans who are creating a toxic environment by trying to suppress legitimate criticisms of Tesla, attack positive outlooks on other electric vehicles, and spread misinformation if it puts Tesla in a positive light.
Our article attempted to highlight the problem within the community before it becomes too big and affects the reputation of the Tesla community.
But now mainstream media are picking it up. That’s exactly what we were trying to avoid.
To be fair, it looks like the Free Press article was driven by Mike Levine, North American communications manager at Ford, who himself has had a combative attitude against Tesla.
Update: Levine says that he had nothing to do with the article and he wasn’t only quoted for his comment to one of the Mach-E owners who was targeted by Tesla fans.
I think that’s worth mentioning, but it doesn’t in any way excuse some of the comments coming from these Tesla superfans.
There’s just no excuse for that.
I am a big Tesla fan myself. I own stock in the company. I own three Tesla vehicles that I love, but I agree that Tesla is not perfect and there’s plenty of legitimate criticisms against the automaker and its vehicles.
I can also appreciate other electric vehicles that actually are part of Tesla’s mission to accelerate the electric vehicle transition.
I know where they are coming from. The media has often pushed this idea that every new EV from legacy automakers were “Tesla killers.”
That created a hostile perspective of other EVs, but we know that this perspective is false and it was just created by the media.
Two wrongs don’t make a right, and the Tesla community needs to drown the comments of those toxic superfans with more encouraging comments for automakers who are taking the electric transition seriously, and for the people who are going electric with those vehicles.
It’s fair to compare EVs with each other, but I beg Tesla fans not to go on the defensive when someone favorably compares another EV to a Tesla vehicle.
Instead, be glad that they actually like an all-electric vehicle. Tesla will be fine either way.
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