Elon Musk continues to move the lines that define the CEO role.
The world’s richest man (estimated at $254 billion as of September 22 by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index) has shredded tradition that chief executives should remain silent and not meddle in geopolitics to protect profits.
In a world searching for leaders, Musk sees himself filling a void and becoming one of the heroes the masses turn to when chaos reigns.
He has also become a kind of mentor to the world’s political leaders, alerting them to the issues he considers to be priorities for the planet.
To establish his influence, Tesla (TSLA) The CEO has mastered social networks, opening and interacting on a daily basis with users, wherever and whenever they are.
He has over 106.7 million followers on Twitter, a platform that has a huge role in setting daily news agendas. On the microblogging site, messages go the other way too: the billionaire’s fans alert him to urgent problems at the moment and he responds to them.
He’s showing this way right now, when many Iranian citizens and regular social media users are asking him for help as the Iranian government tries to crush the protests it faces.
The protests centered on the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian woman who was arrested for wearing what the country’s morality police deemed an inappropriate veil. These authorities enforce laws requiring women to wear a headscarf. Amini died in police custody.
“The Islamic regime is killing the people of #Iran, please help us and be our voice!” “They cut off the internet and now they are slaughtering people,” a Twitter user asked him on September 21.
Indeed, Musk has a technological tool that can be seen as a weapon against governments that manipulate and suppress public opinion, often by blocking sources of communication abroad and blocking the Internet.
This tool is Starlink, Musk’s SpaceX satellite internet connection service. This service guarantees secure and independent access to the Internet. Hard to hack. Service cuts are rare.
Provides Internet access to residents of areas not served by fixed and mobile networks of telecom operators. Thousands of small satellites in low orbit — primarily 342 miles (550 km) above Earth — enable the service.
Musk and his company have supplied Starlink stations to volcano-hit Tonga, in the South Pacific, to provide internet access to isolated and remote villages.
Starlink antennas gained popularity after Musk sent them to Ukraine after Russia invaded the country on February 24. It gives Ukrainians independent access to the Internet and enables the country to stay connected to the outside world. The system is especially used in remote areas as well as places bombed by Russia.
Musk is answering the call
No wonder, then, that Iranians hope to take advantage of this service when it appears that the Iranian authorities have blocked telephone networks and the Internet.
“I’m sure you won’t answer that Mr. Musk, but is it technically possible to introduce Starlink to the Iranian people? It might be a game-changer for the future,” one Twitter user begged Musk on Sept. 19.
The tech mogul responded, “Starlink will request a waiver of Iranian sanctions in this regard.”
Less than four days after that promise, it appears that Musk and SpaceX have submitted an exemption request to serve Iran. And they got permission.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken announced on Twitter: “We have taken action today to promote Internet freedom and the free flow of information for the Iranian people, and have issued a Public License to give them greater access to digital communications to counter Iranian government censorship.” September 23.
Musk announced that SpaceX immediately activated the service in Iran.
“Activate Starlink…”, the billionaire said, without providing additional details. For example, he did not say whether SpaceX would send antennas to the site as it did in Ukraine.
While social media users were waiting for the Iranian government’s reaction to the move – which will undoubtedly disrupt its efforts against the protests – they welcomed the billionaire’s decision.
One Twitter user commented, “Great news #MahsaAmini.”
One Musk fan said, “That’s cool! Your companies are really charitable. They all really care about improving humanity. Thank you, Elon, for your constant concern about humanity.”
“For any Iranian reading this: remember that dishes do not have to be visible to the naked eye; they can be covered with cloth, cardboard, plastic or fiberglass…), another user commented.