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The SEC Just Yanked Elon Musk’s Twitter Privileges

What’s worse than paying millions in fines to the feds? For Elon Musk, it may be the fact that he’s lost his Twitter privileges.

After slapping Tesla and its billionaire boss with a $20 million fine each over Musk’s misleading Aug. 7 tweet about taking the company private, federal regulators this weekend gagged Musk from tweeting any more Tesla news without a company lawyer’s OK.

On one hand, the Twitter muzzle — coupled with a requirement that Musk relinquish his chairman role for three years and hire two additional independent directors — shows that the Securities and Exchange Commission means business.

The SEC’s swift clampdown “should serve as a warning for all who make public pronouncements, including on social media platforms, without regard for either the accuracy or impact of their words,” says Glen McGorty, a former US prosecutor who now specializes in white-collar crime at law firm Crowell & Moring.

More broadly, however, the new Twitter rules threaten to crimp Musk’s headline-grabbing, unpredictable approach to promoting Tesla’s brand, which bears a striking resemblance to President Trump’s Twitter habits. Recently, it landed Musk in a legal scrap with a rescue diver in Thailand, whom Musk accused of being a “pedo guy.”

It may be that Musk is already testing new ways to get around the agreement. On Sunday, he blasted out an e-mail rallying employees to hit third-quarter car-production targets — and it quickly got leaked to the press.

“We are very close to achieving profitability and proving the naysayers wrong,” Musk wrote in the e-mail, just hours after the SEC settlement was announced, according to Bloomberg.

“If we go all-out tomorrow, we will achieve an epic victory beyond all expectations,” he added.

It may not be so simple. While Musk has skirted an SEC action that might have booted him from the company altogether, Tesla also admitted last month that the Justice Department has opened a separate investigation into Musk’s market-moving tweet, in which he claimed there was “funding secured” to take Tesla private at $420 a share.

At least seven shareholder lawsuits have been filed since Musk’s disastrous tweet. The $420 figure — a cheeky reference to marijuana culture — was chosen in part because Musk thought his girlfriend “would find it funny,” according to the SEC’s complaint.

But few investors laughed.

Tesla’s shares are down 30 percent from a high of $379.57 they hit after Musk’s tweet, with nearly $20 billion in market cap erased in less than two months.

To make matters worse, a number of short-sellers also have filed lawsuits because Musk’s tweet initially sent Tesla shares up 11 percent, forcing them to cover bets that the stock price would fall.

Still, not everybody is ready to declare that the end is near for Musk. That’s despite the fact that he keeps missing production targets for the mass-market Model 3 sedan. Tesla is due to give a crucial update on Tuesday.

“It’s a tough short. This guy seems to have nine lives,” said Andrew Left of Citron Research, who is among the short-sellers suing Tesla.

“Instead of Elon Musk, he’s Teflon Musk,” Left told The Post.

Tesla reps did not respond to requests to comment.

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