Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Makes History with 2024 Presidential Bid Announcement on Twitter Spaces with Elon Musk

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis made history on May 24 by announcing his 2024 presidential bid on Twitter during a “Twitter Spaces” conversation with business magnate and Twitter owner Elon Musk. This is the first time a presidential candidate has announced their candidacy on a social media network.[0] Musk purchased Twitter with the promise to return “free speech” after years of complaints from the right that the site had tried to censor conservatives.[1] He has billed himself as a “free speech absolutist” and has at times aligned himself with right-wing conspiracy theorists and hate speech. After assuming control of Twitter, he restored the profiles of Donald Trump and several others who had been prohibited from using the site due to policy violations.[2]

DeSantis’ aides have been watching Twitter become an increasingly friendly space for conservative firebrands under Musk’s leadership, allowing them to speak directly to their conservative audience and bypass traditional media.[1] By controlling the flow of information on Twitter, Musk wields the ability to garner attention for the politicians he supports. Through his Twitter partnerships, Musk possesses the power to elevate the profiles of DeSantis, Carlson, and other conservative figures, ensuring their presence on the timelines of countless individuals.[0] At pivotal points in their careers, he has offered these figures free publicity and a platform for launch.[0] In the end, it is Musk who wields the power over the flow of information on Twitter.

Musk is now adopting the polarized, echo-chamber model of media he once criticized and applying it to his Twitter approach.[0] Not only is he allowing more right-wing voices on Twitter.[0] He is empowering them to appear more authoritative, amplifying their voices, and facilitating the expression of more controversial ideas.[0] This has been met with criticism from some, who worry about the effect that this type of platforming will have on the political landscape.

DeSantis’ decision to announce his candidacy on Twitter aligns with Musk’s self-proclaimed free speech values.[2] During the interview, DeSantis repeatedly criticized the so-called “woke mob” and “woke mind virus,” which is also a grievance of Musk’s.[0] The event happened the same day the Daily Wire, a conservative media outlet that hosts shows by popular right-wing pundits like Ben Shapiro and Matt Walsh, said it would be streaming its shows for free on Twitter.[0] A few weeks ago, Tucker Carlson, who was recently dismissed from Fox News, announced that he is creating a new program for Twitter, which is yet another significant victory for the right-wing media on the social media platform.[0]

However, the announcement was plagued by technical difficulties, with the Twitter Spaces feed hosted by Musk crashing three times within the first several minutes due to the surge in traffic.[3] Since Musk assumed control of the platform in late 2020, Twitter has experienced numerous technical glitches and downtime.[4] After acquiring the company, Musk quickly reduced costs by laying off a significant number of technical and other staff, and also decreasing Twitter’s server capacity. His Twitter Spaces have been known to shut down suddenly due to technical glitches.[5] After purchasing Twitter in October, Musk has fired almost 66% of the workforce, including a significant number of engineers, resulting in frequent technical issues and service interruptions on the platform.

The bill proposed by Florida SB 7050 makes changes to election laws that Democrats and voting rights groups say are unnecessary, harmful, and would restrict votes from communities of color, which tend to skew Democratic.[6] The bill also cracks down on voter registration groups, increasing the maximum fees groups could face for violating laws and shortening their window to turn in applications.[7] It unfairly penalizes groups that register a large number of Black and Hispanic voters.[7] The bill’s co-sponsor and the author of Florida’s original 2018 “resign to run” law, Republican Sen. Travis Huston of St. Augustine, believes that the law already allowed DeSantis to run without resigning.[8]

DeSantis’ candidacy announcement on Twitter is a significant event in the political landscape, with the potential to change the way candidates interact with their audience. It’s also a reflection of the growing influence of social media in political campaigns and the increasing polarization of the media landscape. While Musk’s promotion of free speech has been welcomed by some, there are concerns that the platforming of controversial voices may have harmful effects on the political discourse. As the 2024 election cycle approaches, it remains to be seen how Twitter and other social media platforms will shape the political landscape.

0. “Why Ron DeSantis and Tucker Carlson love Elon Musk and Twitter” Vox.com, 24 May. 2023, https://www.vox.com/technology/2023/5/24/23735940/elon-musk-ron-desantis-twitter-tucker-carlson-2024-election

1. “Report: Ron DeSantis Will Formally Announce His 2024 Bid With Elon Musk, Because Apparently David Duke Wasn’t Available” Vanity Fair, 23 May. 2023, https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2023/05/ron-desantis-elon-musk-2024-announcement

2. “Outages, garbled audio: DeSantis’s 2024 launch marred by Twitter tech meltdown” The Guardian US, 25 May. 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/may/24/ron-desantis-2024-twitter-launch-tech-outage

3. “DeSantis’ moonshot campaign bets big on dethroning Trump” Axios, 25 May. 2023, https://www.axios.com/2023/05/24/ron-desantis-trump-challenge-elon-musk

4. “Glitches, echoes and ‘melting the servers’ crash” CNN, 25 May. 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/05/24/tech/twitter-desantis-meltdown/index.html

5. “DeSantis’ launch marred by horrendous tech failures” POLITICO, 24 May. 2023, https://www.politico.com/news/2023/05/24/desantis-launch-marked-by-horrendous-tech-failures-00098700

6. “DeSantis signs sweeping new election laws. What’s inside HB 7050” Pensacola News Journal, 24 May. 2023, https://www.pnj.com/story/news/politics/2023/05/23/florida-desantis-governor-resign-to-run-president-election-law-sb-7050/70250128007/

7. “DeSantis signs bill that says he can remain governor while running for president” Miami Herald, 24 May. 2023, https://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/article275737821.html

8. “DeSantis to give himself permission to run for president under bill” USA TODAY, 24 May. 2023, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2023/05/23/florida-desantis-president-election-law-2024/70250333007/

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