Did Elon Musk write that "the world is flat" on Twitter in April 2022? No, that's not true: The viral image of the supposed entry appears to have been digitally altered. Archived versions of Musk's account do not contain such a tweet.
The claim appeared in a post published on Instagram on May 23, 2023. The caption said:
This is for you Firmament folks! I'm def NOT going to say fake,false or any of that. I have no clue. Is what it is. As Usual...
The video contained an image of what appeared to be a tweet from Musk that said:
The world is flat and I can't get past the firmament!
Anyone want to buy SpaceX
The add-on text continued:
Rocket gets stuck
On the ceiling 😮
This is what it looked like on Instagram at the time of writing:
(Source: Instagram screenshot taken on Tue May 23 14:30:04 2023 UTC)
According to the Bible, the firmament is a God-created dome surrounded by waters beneath and above it.
As the video indicates, the supposed tweet was purportedly published on April 25, 2022.
Archived versions of Musk's Twitter account from that date (here and here) and the following day show that he did not tweet anything similar. Instead, Musk wrote about then-ongoing SpaceX projects and what he described as "free speech."
The purported tweet showed a 2022 profile picture of the entrepreneur, which suggests that it was an archived version of his account that was digitally altered. Had it been a capture of Musk's live account as it appears in 2023, that would display his current image, even in older tweets:
(Source: Twitter screenshot taken on Tue May 23 14:50:06 2023 UTC)
But on February 27, 2023, he made an entry acknowledging that the Earth is round:
Earth is almost entirely solar-powered already. Without the sun, we'd just be a dark ice ball with some chemotrophic bacteria.
Musk acquired Twitter for $44 billion in October 2022 and stepped down as the company's CEO in mid-May 2023.
Besides the debunked conspiracy about Earth's literal flatness, the expression "The world is flat" also refers to the title of the 2005 book written by three-time Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas L. Friedman. As explained by the Washington Post, the author used it in a figurative meaning, metaphorically describing the leveling of the world economy due to globalization and new technologies.
Other Lead Stories fact checks about the firmament can be found here.