Tesla demands 'defamatory' videos of car hitting child dummy be removed from internet

A child dummy about to be run over by a Tesla
The Elon Musk–run company said the videos put consumers at risk. Photo credit: Supplied / The Dawn Project

Tesla has demanded the safety advocacy group behind videos of the company's car repeatedly hitting a child-sized dummy remove them from the internet immediately.

In a 'cease and desist' letter sent to Dan O'Dowd, founder of The Dawn Project, the Elon Musk-run company claimed the videos were somehow 'defamatory'.

"It has come to our attention that you, personally, and The Dawn Project have been disparaging Tesla's commercial interests and disseminating defamatory information to the public regarding the capabilities of Tesla's Full Self Driving (FSD) (Beta) technology," the letter stated.

"We demand that you immediately cease and desist further dissemination of all defamatory information, issue a formal public retraction within 24 hours and provide Tesla with the below demanded documentation.

"While you and The Dawn Project purport to advocate for safety, the videos portray unsafe and improper use of FSD Beta and active safety features. Your actions actually put consumers at risk."

The letter came after a nationwide television advertising campaign was launched by The Dawn Project highlighting what it called the "potential dangers" of Tesla's software.

The initial videos of the child-sized dummy being hit by the car went viral on the internet, attracting responses from both Musk fans and detractors.

Twitter user Omar Qazi - who tweets as Whole Mars Catalogue - even persuaded a couple to volunteer their child to prove the software worked as advertised.

However, in a response posted on The Dawn Project's website, O'Dowd has doubled down on his criticisms.

"This is the most bizarre Cease and Desist letter I've ever seen. It's mostly Tesla marketing propaganda and most of it appears to have been written by Elon Musk himself," O'Dowd wrote.

"It turns out, Mr Free Speech Absolutist is just another crybaby hiding behind his lawyer's skirt.

"He is obsessed with stopping me from exposing that his Full Self-Driving cars could mow down a child dressed in a safety vest in a school crosswalk. I guess because that wouldn't be good for the brand."

O'Dowd demanded Tesla "look in the mirror" over the claims that The Dawn Project was putting consumers at risk. He then went on to condemn the actions "to whip up your troll army against us", which encouraged others to try and replicate the tests.

"Master Scammer Musk's game plan: if the fanboys' vile attacks don't scare off a critic he threatens them with endless baseless litigation which will cost them their house even if they win," O'Dowd continued.

"Fortunately, I can afford not to be intimidated by these threats.

"Tesla Full Self-Driving software has no future. All it does is take a perfectly good Tesla car and make it occasionally try to kill the driver, the passengers, and innocent bystanders."