Florida Governor Ron DeSantis officially announced his candidacy for the presidency of the United States on Wednesday evening in a Twitter Space, a particular function of the site which essentially consists of a live audio. However, the event went very badly, and represented yet another moment of embarrassment for the head of Twitter Elon Musk, as well as for DeSantis, who will face Donald Trump in the Republican primaries.
The live was supposed to start at 6pm, but there were so many problems that DeSantis was finally able to make his announcement at 6:26pm. DeSantis, Twitter boss Elon Musk and venture capitalist David Sacks, one of Musk’s top advisers, could speak, but their voices were initially drowned out by echoes and interference. DeSantis’ account repeatedly logged in and out of the live, muting and unmuting himself several times before leaving completely. Several users who were trying to follow the announcement on smartphones reported that the Twitter app crashed multiple times. Hundreds of thousands of potential listeners had already dropped off the hookup when DeSantis actually began speaking.
The decision to use Spaces was indeed a risky one from the start, as the feature is known to not be particularly reliable from a technical point of view. The announcement of a high-profile presidential bid like DeSantis’s was especially important for Twitter, which has experienced technical and reputational problems since Musk bought it last October. The result clearly did not live up to expectations.
“Just keeps crashing, huh?”
— Elon Musk’s planned Twitter Space with Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) for his 2024 presidential launch has gone extremely awry pic.twitter.com/fTKu6PTyOy
— The Recount (@therecount) May 24, 2023
“It was unfortunate,” Musk commented after the event. Instead, Sacks said the announcement was “by far the largest ‘room’ (as live audio on Spaces is called) ever organized on social media.” In reality, it is only the largest that has taken place on Twitter since Musk fired most of his employees: on November 7, 2022, a few days after the purchase, a Twitter Space in which Musk had answered various questions about the decision to buy the platform had garnered 2.7 million listeners without any particular problems.
“Wednesday’s technical problems showed that Twitter is far from running smoothly and turned what was supposed to be Musk’s crowning achievement into a somewhat embarrassing scene,” journalist Ryan Mac wrote in the New York Times. For Musk, DeSantis’ announcement was meant to be an opportunity to promote multiple of his own interests. Meanwhile, it was a political “coming out” for the billionaire, who has flirted with right-wing accounts and politicians on Twitter for years but has never aligned himself with a presidential candidate the way he is doing with DeSantis. And it was also supposed to be a way to further their business interests by putting Twitter in the spotlight. Instead, the reaction in the face of a faltering live broadcast was one of bewilderment and contempt that an announcement that should have been carefully choreographed went so badly ».
The announcement was also mocked by DeSantis’ main rival in the Republican primaries, former President Donald Trump. On his own social network Truth Social, Trump called it a catastrophe, and predicted that “the rest of his campaign will be a similar disaster”. On Instagram, Trump then posted a satirical video of a fake Twitter Spaces event in which DeSantis, Musk, philanthropist George Soros, former US Vice President Dick Cheney, the devil and Adolf Hitler tried to talk.