In a new report revealing Tesla’s non-disclosure agreement with Full Self-Driving beta testers, we learn that the automaker tells them to be “selective” with what they share publicly and warns them that “a lot of people want Tesla to fail.”
Last week, Galileo Russell, a Tesla investor who is part of the automaker’s early access program for Full Self-Driving Beta software, said something interesting in one of his videos:
“Tesla doesn’t want us sharing all the clips from the videos, just like when it looks good because they know people take it out of context.”
It’s something that many suspected but no one ever confirmed. We reached out to Russell to learn exactly what he meant by that, but he didn’t respond.
However, Vice reportedly obtained the non-disclosure agreement that Tesla makes members of the early access program sign.
While it falls short of telling people not to share videos that make Tesla look bad, it comes fairly close to it:
“Motherboard has learned that every FSD Beta tester signs a non-disclosure agreement in order to be a member of the Early Access Program (EAP), a community of Tesla aficionados the company selects. This NDA, the language of which Motherboard confirmed with multiple beta testers, specifically prohibits EAP members from speaking to the media or giving test rides to the media. It also says: “Do remember that there are a lot of people that want Tesla to fail; Don’t let them mischaracterize your feedback and media posts.” It also encourages EAP members to “share on social media responsibly and selectively…consider sharing fewer videos, and only the ones that you think are interesting or worthy of being shared.”
To be fair, some beta testers have been posting videos of Tesla’s system making significant and potentially dangerous mistakes. Therefore, the automaker doesn’t outright prevent beta testers from posting videos that can make them look bad, but the document does encourage self-censorship.
Furthermore, it encourages beta testers to fight back against people who “mischaracterize your feedback and media posts” and fight back they do.
Taylor Ogan shared a clip on Twitter of one of Russell’s videos where Tesla FSD failed. He gave credit to Russell in the Twitter thread, but the beta tester contacted him asking to delete the tweet and he even threaten to contact his employer:
“Yo. Please delete your tweet. You can link to my video but not rip my video and give me no credit. That is illegal. I will follow up with your employer and am contacting twitter.”
While he makes it sound like a copyright issue here, Ogan claimed that Russell said that he feared losing his Beta access and that Tesla fans were “mad” at him over the clip:
Either way, Tesla is going to start losing more control over what people share about its Full Self-Driving Beta since it is starting to open access to the fleet.
I can’t blame Tesla for asking their testers to make them look good. Any company would do that. However, I’m not a fan of them claiming that “a lot of people want Tesla to fail” when they talk about sharing content that could be criticized.
It associates criticism – and there is plenty of valid and constructive criticism regarding the FSD Beta – with people wanting Tesla to fail.
It encourages this already rampant behavior amongst Tesla superfans to take criticism of the company as “attacks” and assigns intentions behind those criticisms that are often wrong.
Like in the example above, I don’t see any evidence that Ogan “wants Tesla to fail.” On the contrary, he appears to be positive about EVs and Tesla, but like many, he has reservations about their approach to self-driving. (Update: Ogan even disclosed being long Tesla stocks)
I am not saying that no one wants Tesla to fail – because those people certainly do exist – but I don’t think this kind of language from Tesla is helpful considering the existing issue they have with some fans, including many in the beta tester program, being extremely combative against often fair criticism.
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