On July 6, 2023, a screenshot of a tweet was shared on Twitter that appeared to show Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg lashing out at Twitter owner Elon Musk. According to the screenshot, after Musk had tweeted a remark mentioning the word "cheating," Zuckerberg responded, "Speaking of cheating, you had an affair with Sergey Brin's wife last year."
ZUCK IS HOLDING BACK NO SHOTS pic.twitter.com/eRrx9Glp3R
— LeGate🇺🇦 (@williamlegate) July 6, 2023
However, no, this was not a real tweet sent out by Zuckerberg. The tweet screenshot initially appeared to have been created as a joke by tech entrepreneur William LeGate. In a Twitter DM, LeGate told us that he found the screenshot on Twitter, but did not create it himself.
In the past, LeGate had become known by his loyal followers for posting other fake tweets, altered pictures, or simply just untrue information. For example, we previously reported about when LeGate promoted a false rumor that claimed Twitter was raising the rates of its Twitter Blue service to $15 per month.
A few different factors were at play when this fake tweet screenshot was created that involved either Zuckerberg or Musk, or both of them. We've detailed information about all of these factors below.
Zuckerberg Posts First Tweet Since 2012
First, Zuckerberg truly does own the Twitter handle @finkd. In fact, he had tweeted for the first time in more than 11 years on the night of July 5 by posting an old Spider-Man meme. The meme shows two people in Spider-Man costumes pointing at each other. The tweet was referred to by CBS News as a "playful jab at Elon Musk's Twitter."
— Mark Zuckerberg (@finkd) July 6, 2023
A Musk-Zuck Cage Match
The second factor at play with the fake tweet screenshot was talk of a possible cage match fight between Musk and Zuckerberg. Musk first tweeted about the possibility of a cage match with Zuckerberg on June 20.
I'm up for a cage match if he is lol
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 21, 2023
Days later, on July 1, The New York Times reported that Dana White, the president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), had received a text from Zuckerberg, asking if Musk was serious about a fight. White has since had multiple phone calls with both men, telling the Times, "They both want to do it."
The Launch of Threads
The third factor happening around the time that the fake tweet screenshot was posted was the fact that Zuckerberg had just launched Meta's new challenger to Twitter an app named Threads. The app became available to the public on the night of July 5.
In the fake tweet screenshot, the fake Zuckerberg response was to a real tweet from Musk. Hours before the screenshot was posted, the @TitterDaily account reported, "NEWS: Twitter is threatening to sue Meta over 'systematic, willful and unlawful misappropriation' of Twitter's trade secrets and IP, as well as scraping of Twitter's data, in a cease-and-desist letter sent yesterday to Zuckerberg by Elon's lawyer Alex Spiro."
In a reply, Musk said, "Competition is fine, cheating is not." It was this tweet that Zuckerberg supposedly replied to, but again, it was all a joke.
Competition is fine, cheating is not
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 6, 2023
Musk 'Affair' with Nicole Shanahan
As for the claim of "cheating" and an "affair" that appeared in the fake tweet screenshot, this subject involved Musk, Google co-founder Sergey Brin and his ex-wife, Nicole Shanahan.
On July 6, People magazine reported on the matter, writing, "Nicole Shanahan 'Moving On' 1 Year After Alleged Elon Musk Affair, Sergey Brin Split (Exclusive)." Both Shanahan and Musk have denied the allegation that they were previously romantically involved.