TikTok creator Ricco Kimborough had recently published a video through his account. The video showed him “take delivery” of a Model S with an airbag unit that fell into his hands. The social media enthusiast has come clean about the video in question, posting an apology on TikTok and admitting the vehicle wasn’t really his. He simply sat in an unlocked car at a Tesla delivery center.
This video is for Elon Musk. I love your product, sir, I do. I had no idea, and I’m sorry from the bottom of my heart. Really, I had no idea that I was not supposed to get into that vehicle because it was not locked at all. I just want to say, I apologize… This video went viral and I got a call from the actual police department saying that they don’t want me on their property… So this message is to Elon Musk… I’m sorry and I’m actually purchasing a Tesla. Got one on order.
— Whole Mars Catalog (@WholeMarsBlog) June 28, 2021
Repercussions of Ricco’s Video
The viral video was enough for the anti-Tesla crowd to start rallying against the Californian automaker. Of course, Ricco’s reactions to his vehicle’s alleged defect further fuelled these protests. Ricco had said things like the vehicle was “some cheap baloney” and these kinds of defects were unacceptable. He had even gone to a Tesla location to complain about his Model S.
However, there were some hints in the said video which pointed towards it being a scam. Ricco had mentioned that the vehicle was a Model S Plaid, but it was a Long Range variant. At the time of shooting the video, Tesla hadn’t begun the deliveries of the base variant of their premium sedan (they did it a couple of days ago). Furthermore, there were protective wraps on some of the components noticeable in the video. Tesla uses these wraps when they are transporting their vehicles. Finally, the vehicle was in Transport Mode, which means that it wasn’t ready to be handed over to a customer in any way.
False News Regarding Tesla
This isn’t the first time that Tesla has been the victim of false news. We had previously published an article about a Tesla owner in China owning up to posting a fake video on TikTok. That video showed a staged “brake failure” incident. The owner had later apologized in the form of another TikTok video.
Many people are making this a publicity stunt. They create fake videos about Tesla’s quality issues and upload them on social media. Tesla has already encountered a lot of criticism for its build quality, so it is easy to believe these fake videos. When these videos go viral, many media outlets cover them through articles of their own.
Two things need to be mended here. Firstly, media outlets that cover such viral videos need to ensure the reliability of these news reports. Secondly, if you do cover an article and it is later found to be fake, you need to own up and post corrections. Even today, many articles that covered Ricco’s video haven’t made corrections yet, which will result in many people still believing that Ricco’s video was real.
Emma Frances Bloomfield (PhD), who is an Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, has stated her views on such fake news:
To address misinformation, people can create more complete stories that replace the incorrect one, provide trustworthy authority figures to deliver the message, and not repeat the false information when making the correction. We say, “correct early and correct often” to try and get ahead of the temporal advantage misinformation has and to counter the repetition of the false information.
It was probably very easy to believe Ricco’s video, given the number of articles we’ve read in the past about Tesla’s quality issues. This once again throws light on Tesla’s problems with the build quality of their cars. If this had been a one-off event, people may have found Ricco’s video less believable.
Having said that, what Ricco did was completely unacceptable. Spreading misinformation is the biggest problem you can create in this age of digitalization and data. It makes people question the legitimacy of any sort of article they read in the future, which halts the media’s main purpose.