"They thought he was going to self-harm himself."

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Everyone knows that Elon Musk broke Twitter after he bought it, but fewer were aware — until now — that Twitter seems to have broken him right back.

In an interview with CNBC's Squawk Box, author Ben Mezrich said that he learned all kinds of dirt about Musk when working on his new book, fittingly titled "Breaking Twitter," about the bizarre billionaire's acquisition of the social network.

"The Elon before Twitter and the Elon after Twitter are two different Elons," Mezrich said. "Elon didn't just break Twitter, Twitter broke Elon Musk."

Best known for authoring the book that became 2010's sleeper hit "The Social Network," the writer got the kind of insider access at the site formerly known as Twitter that's become a staple of his work.

In one particularly alarming anecdote, the writer recounts how during one "spiral," Musk freaked his employees out so bad by locking himself in his office that they "were considering calling a wellness check by the San Francisco police because they thought he was going to self-harm himself."


That freakout seems to have begun, Mezrich explained, with other incidents — including him getting booed at a Dave Chappelle show last December and someone confronting a car carrying his son around that same time. Both demonstrated how much people have grown to despise the serial entrepreneur who once inspired "Iron Man," and contrary to his devil-may-care attitude, Mezrich argues that Musk is very sensitive to what people think about him.

"I think he cares a lot," Mezrich said during the CNBC interview. "I think he truly cares about his reputation."

In the process of losing some of his last vestiges of public credibility, Musk also, the author argued, ruined Twitter's credibility, too.

"It's a dirty circus now," Mezrich said, claiming that Twitter's "spiral downward" began when Musk de-verified journalists and other vetted accounts in favor of giving blue verification checkmarks to those willing to give the site their credit card information.

"It's gone from being a place you go on to find the truth," he continued, "to a site you go on to be entertained."

Overall, Musk has "scared off" everyone who used to populate our feeds, Mezrich said — and if the guy who documented both the creation of Facebook and the beginning of the end for Twitter is declaring it, you know it's gotta be true.

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