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Chinese bloggers claim Tesla threatened them with defamation suits


Chinese bloggers claim they have been threatened with legal action by Tesla for posting negative content about the US automaker, as it battles a wave of bad publicity in the world’s largest auto market.

The electric car company this month created an account on popular Chinese microblog Weibo for its China legal department. Some users claimed that the account was used to send them private messages warning them of defamation lawsuits.

Sentiment in China, one of Tesla’s biggest markets, appears to be turning against the California-based automaker in recent months after overflow of controversy It includes customer complaints about alleged malfunctions in the car.

At least two accounts on Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, have posted messages in recent days apologizing for videos that indicated no quality issues for Tesla after they claimed they received legal warnings from the car company.

By threatening to use legal means against critics, Tesla will follow the lead of Chinese tech companies including Tencent, which has File a lawsuit against bloggers Under the country’s defamation law.

Such suits often require a retraction of the case, an apology, and compensation.

One account, “Ruifeng Auto”, said it would “reflection deeply” after posting a video at the end of May showing the new Tesla’s brakes failed before it left the showroom. The account admitted that the allegations had “no factual basis”.

On Wednesday, a woman whose protest at the Shanghai Auto Show in April over an alleged brake malfunction helped escalate online anger toward Tesla admitted to Jinri Toutiao, a news aggregation app designed by TikTok owner ByteDance, that she was an “extremist” in The company pays for compensation.

It had previously called on Tesla to hand over data from its car to regulators and threatened to sue the company if it did not.

On the same day, the “5,000-year-old rabbit”, a blogger who posted screenshots of messages allegedly from Tesla threatening a lawsuit against Jenri Tutiao, apologized to the automaker for causing any crime. The blogger had described Tesla as a “trash company” and accused it of behaving like a “hooligan”.

The blogger, who also insisted that he did not create any Tesla-related content, added: “I also hope that everyone does not create animosity. [towards Tesla] Because of quality problems, we especially hope that the problem will not be raised to the level [of] A discussion between China and the United States.

He told the Financial Times that the alleged warning from Tesla caused “disruption to my usual work and life” but declined to talk further about the matter.

Tesla, led by billionaire Elon Musk, has faced a propaganda nightmare in China even as it comes under increasing competitive pressure from domestic rivals. © Pool / AFP via Getty Images

Tesla did not respond to a request for comment on the activities of its Chinese legal division.

The US group, led by billionaire Elon Musk, has in recent months faced a propaganda nightmare in China at a turn when faced with it. Increasing competition from local competitors.

Chinese state media criticized Tesla for initially saying it would not negotiate with people who make unreasonable requests, claiming it was not taking customer complaints seriously after the accident at the Shanghai Auto Show. That prompted the automaker to publicly apologize.

Li Sheng, a US-based independent auto analyst, likened Tesla’s problems in China to a “soap opera,” with premiums popping up every day or week.

Tesla leads luxury passenger car sales in China’s electric vehicle market. Its sales in the country rose 29 percent month-on-month in May to 33,463 vehicles, according to data from the China Passenger Car Association.

Chinese regulators have increased the company’s scrutiny over safety and national security concerns.

In March, some military complexes banned Tesla cars for fear that their cameras and sensors could be used to collect sensitive data. Tesla has denied that its cars are used for espionage.

In May, Tesla set up a data center in China to comply with local laws prohibiting data transfers outside the country.

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