Elon Musk ushers in DeSantis’ 2024 campaign, signaling a new era for Twitter

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis filed the paperwork to officially launch his presidential campaign this afternoon, but opted to join Elon Musk on a Twitter space to discuss his campaign on Wednesday night. DeSantis’ decision to forgo traditional news outlets in favor of having a big media moment with Musk marks a new phase for the social network — and one that would have been impossible to predict in 2016, or even 2020.

DeSantis met Musk on friendly terms. Despite pretenses to the contrary, Musk’s views are reliably conservative, with a focus on social and cultural issues that has only worsened since his decision to buy Twitter. Last year, Musk explicitly said he planned to support DeSantis’ potential run for president, calling him a “reasonable and centrist” choice. Musk previously encouraged his 140 million followers to vote for republicans in the 2022 midterm elections.

Musk has increasingly aligned himself with the political right, sometimes including its more dangerous and conspiracy-fueled fringes. This month, Musk spread the lie that the mass shooter who killed eight people at a Dallas-area mall this month was portrayed as a white supremacist. In fact, as confirmed by researchers, the shooter sported at least two overt Nazi symbols as tattoos, including an SS sign and a swastika, and espoused white supremacist beliefs online.

The governor of Florida and the new owner of Twitter share vast ideological territory. Musk and DeSantis – the so-called “anti-reawakening” governor of Florida – obsessively go after their ideological enemies (the woke mob or the “Woke Mind Virus” in the language of Musk). Musk has gone out of his way to loosen up the app and lift the guardrails that once protected vulnerable groups like black users and the LGBTQ community on Twitter, while DeSantis is systematically dismantling all the protections queer and transgender Floridians once enjoyed. and block education around black history. (Things are so tough in the Sunshine State that the NAACP and Human Rights Campaign recently issued travel advisories.) DeSantis and Musk have a particular anger for the transgender community, which they regularly express by wielding political power. in their respective fields.

The Twitter space with Florida’s new presidential hopeful isn’t the only sign that Twitter is entering a new era. When Fox News reshuffles ousted longtime host Tucker Carlson, he quickly announced that his show would be reinvented for Musk’s new incarnation of Twitter. DeSantis’ Twitter moment also signals that the social platform is now home to the kind of conservative political moments that once played out on Fox News. It’s also a sign that Twitter may not be the social nexus of Trump’s base that it once was, even after Musk warmly welcomed the former president.

Twitter and Trump

The Florida governor’s decision to informally launch his campaign on Twitter is the latest sign that the social platform is evolving into something vastly different from what has existed before. For years, Twitter as a platform was synonymous with Trump – supposedly his main challenger in the race for the 2024 Republican nomination.

The former president, who first secured the Republican nomination in 2016, sometimes tweeted more than 50 times a day. This hyperactive Twitter presence has defined his presidency, as has his signature style of erratic capitalization and inscrutable typos (a covfefe please, sugar-free milk). After years of breaking the platform’s rules, Trump was finally permanently kicked off Twitter in 2021 for his role in abetting the attack on the US Capitol.

Since then, Trump has been mostly relegated to the periphery of mainstream social media. Meanwhile, Twitter itself has undergone a transformation that in some ways aligns it politically more than ever with the former president, even as Musk seeks to elevate DeSantis.

Trump’s fate on Twitter changed when Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk decided to take over the company, buying it for $44 billion in October last year. Musk, who governed Twitter policy for months based on his own political whims and preferences, lifted Trump’s ban shortly after he took office. But Trump has remained silent on the platform where he previously spent hours each day, likely because he is still linked to Truth Social, the alternative app bearing his name. Meanwhile, Trump attacks his new adversary and stokes aging election conspiracies there.

Twitter quickly transformed under Musk’s chaotic tutelage. The takeover drained Twitter’s workforce, left the platform’s existing moderation and security practices in shambles, and drove a large number of users and advertisers with no interest in an even more toxic version of the network. notoriously toxic social. Alternatives to Twitter have emerged and flourished modestly in the months since Musk took the helm, siphoning off former Twitter users in the process. It’s unclear whether the company plans to reverse Musk-era decisions when Twitter’s new publicity-savvy CEO Linda Yaccarino of NBCUniversal takes the top job. Musk’s Twitter is more likely to lean more into his new thing – and we see everything that merges in real time.


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