Ron DeSantis should take to Twitter Spaces today to officially announce his bid for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. Unfortunately for the governor of Florida, it appears that Twitter was not prepared for the influx of people waiting to hear the announcement. Shortly after Space went live, the broadcast went down and DeSantis had to wait before he could say he was running for president of the United States of America.
“We have so many people here that I think we’re kind of melting the servers, which is a good sign,” said Republican megadonor and Elon Musk confidant David Sacks said at a moment when Space returned for a moment before falling again. The announcement finally began after Twitter moved Space to Sacks’ account because “Musk’s account was breaking the system.” Sacks said Space, with more than 500,000 people tuning in at one point, is the largest group to “meet online,” a a claim that is easily ridiculed.
“When Elon Musk stepped up to buy Twitter he paid a lot of money for it. And I’m sure because he’s a good businessman – Elon, I’m sure you can make money from it – but the point is you have to put your money where your mouth is,” DeSantis said of Musk’s purchase of Twitter after Space launched.
Musk’s decision to personally give DeSantis a platform should put to bed any questions about his politics. Since he took the platform in October, the billionaire has repeatedly associated with and enabled far-right voices. In early December, Twitter reinstated the account of Andrew Anglin, the creator of the white supremacist website The Daily Stormer. Before that, Musk raised conspiracy theories about the attack on Paul Pelosi. Recently, he publicly attacked Anthony Fauci and George Soros. In helping DeSantis announce his presidential bid, Musk aligned himself with a politician who signed legislation restricting access to abortion and banning transitional care for minors.
Before now, Twitter, under its previous leadership, had never directly engaged with a presidential candidate. For the most part, the platform’s user-facing political outreach involves an election hub that directs people to information on how to vote and livestreams dedicated to debates between presidential candidates. Now the company plans to give former Fox News pundit Tucker Carlson a platform.
In the years of Donald Trump as president, the public has become accustomed to seeing a US leader using Twitter as a personal megaphone. The former president was banned from the website in 2021 after the riots in the US Capitol on January 6. Last November, Musk appeared to make the decision to restore Trump’s account on the results of a Twitter poll. The company reinstated Trump’s account on November 19, 2022, but despite several attempts at public coaxing from Musk, the former president has not tweeted since before his ban.
The fact that Twitter is running into technical difficulties should come as no surprise. Under Musk’s leadership, the company cut most of the workforce it had in place under former CEO Parag Agrawal, including much of the team responsible for its critical infrastructure.
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