Elon Musk's repeated criticisms of bitcoin (BTC-USD) appear to have come at a cost — at least when you look at how people are feeling about him on Twitter.
According to data from sentiment tracking company Awario shared exclusively with Yahoo Finance, the positive-to-negative sentiment of tweets about Musk reached a new low in May, falling significantly around the same time cryptocurrency prices plunged after Musk started criticizing bitcoin and announced Tesla would no longer accept it as a form of payment.
Back in January, tweets in favor and against Musk were about equal in number, but by May, the ratio of positive-to-negative sentiment had fallen by about 25% to hit the lowest ratio since Awario began tracking Musk's sentiment in October 2020. Tweets about Musk that were neutral in sentiment remained the largest by percentage at about 66%, followed by negative tweets at 19.2% and positive tweets at just 14.9%, respectively.
Sentiment in various tweets about Musk were algorithmically tracked by Awario by measuring certain keywords. As one example from influencer and crypto enthusiast Fabri Lemus highlights, many negative tweets followed Musk's May 12 announcement that Tesla would no longer accept bitcoin for purchases. Bitcoin's price fell 12% after that announcement and has lost about 35% of its value in the weeks since.
Elon musk is the most hated person in the crypto world. He earned it.
— FABRI (@FabriLemus7) May 16, 2021
Interestingly, positive tweets defending Musk also followed that announcement, albeit to a smaller degree. As one example from crypto investor David Gokhshtein showed, some people bought into Musk's defense that the fact Tesla still held bitcoin on its balance sheet was a major example to other corporations looking to possibly do the same. "Elon Musk is helping our entire #crypto industry grow and gain adoption," Gokhshtein tweeted. "It’s not just a DOGE thing."
Of course, Dogecoin has been the main focus of Musk's compliments on Twitter, calling it the "people's crypto" and repeatedly hyping it into hitting an all-time high in May before jokingly calling it "a hustle" on Saturday Night Live. Even some negative sentiment from Dogecoin fans followed the 25% retreat in Doge's price after his SNL appearance.
To be fair, sentiment on Twitter likely matters little to Musk. Despite a rise in negative sentiment, he still saw his follower count rise by more than 3 million in May to top 56 million total followers and now boasts the most followed account among business executives. What might matter more is if it begins to have an impact on Tesla as a company — something longtime Tesla investor and Gerber Kawasaki CEO, Ross Gerber, also worried about in a recent Yahoo Finance interview.
"Elon is wading into an area that's maybe not the best of statements to make because the fact of the matter is bitcoin is the future of digital currencies, it's the root of it," he said, noting that it made logical sense that Musk might attack bitcoin's carbon footprint and advocate for miners to shift to more sustainable energy sources. "But I think it's a very dangerous area for Elon to get in when he's causing people losses like he did the other day and it turns people against him and ultimately Tesla."