Elon Musk’s high-profile Twitter event, where Ron DeSantis, the Governor of Florida, launched his presidential bid, got off to a rough start with several crashes before restarting the whole thing about 30 minutes into the broadcast.
Following the planned commencement time, Musk initiated a fresh audio transmission on Twitter Spaces and approximately thirty minutes later, he expressed, “That was absolutely crazy, my apologies.” “In reality, we are conducting this broadcast through David Sacks’s Twitter account since using mine essentially caused the system to malfunction.”
The number of people who listened to Elon Musk’s interview on the BBC with Spaces Twitter was more than 3 million, and the number of people who attended the virtual concert of Scott Travis in Fortnite was more than 12 million. This reality was much smaller than the number of people who had previously met online. Elon Musk was referring to David Sacks, a tech entrepreneur and investor, during the interview moderated by Sacks.
During the DeSantis interview, Musk also criticized the “woke virus” and the so-called “woke” and “mob” mentality, which he sees as a grievance. He chose to announce his bid for the presidency on Twitter because he aligns with the values of free speech, according to Musk’s self-proclaimed beliefs.
DeSantis expressed, “I believe the actions taken against Twitter have great importance for the future of our nation. It ensures that such incidents will not occur again on this particular social media platform. The suppression of truth occurred repeatedly, but now that Twitter is under the control of someone who supports free speech, such incidents will no longer take place, as was the case during the Covid pandemic. I believe that freedom of speech in this country was diminishing rapidly.”
Critics say that Governor DeSantis is actually like Musk, the governor of Florida, in that he claims to support free speech for everyone, but his agenda seems to be right-wing.
Musk has long claimed that he wants Twitter to be a digital town square, open to debate from all aspects of politics.
Shortly after he submitted his offer to acquire the company, the billionaire posted a tweet in April of the previous year, stating, ‘In order for Twitter to earn the public’s confidence, it must remain politically impartial, thereby equally displeasing both the extreme right and the extreme left.’
Lately, Musk has been causing a lot more upset than before. However, he has been attracting some of the most powerful conservative figures in politics by engaging with rhetoric and conspiracy theories, angering liberals with his culture-war-baiting and conspiracy theories. But recently, Musk has been upsetting one side much more than the other.
The platform represents a significant triumph for right-wing media on Twitter, as Tucker Carlson, recently dismissed from Fox News, is now producing a new show exclusively on Twitter. Another major victory for right-wing media on the platform occurred when the DeSantis event coincided with the announcement from the Daily Wire, a conservative media outlet known for featuring renowned right-wing pundits such as Ben Shapiro and Matt Walsh, that they would be live-streaming their shows for free on Twitter. Elon Musk, the owner of the company, is lending his star power and enormous following to support this endeavor, which is also noteworthy because it marks the first time a presidential candidate has publicly declared their bid for presidency on a social media platform. This fact became evident on Tuesday when Musk hosted DeSantis on Twitter.
According to an analysis by The Washington Post, prominent Republican Twitter accounts amassed tens of thousands of followers while their Democratic counterparts experienced a decline in the weeks following Elon Musk’s assumption of control over Twitter. A recent study conducted by Pew indicates that Twitter users who identify as Democrats were nearly 10 percent more inclined to express their intention to discontinue using the platform within a year, with the partisan divide being even more pronounced among Democratic women than men. Musk’s efforts to cozy up to the political right appear to be estranging some liberal users, as he has not engaged in any comparable public partnerships with liberal politicians, left-leaning, or even neutral media outlets, while actively promoting right-wing powerhouses on Twitter.
Musk continues to maintain control and manage the company. Despite his announcement of an imminent resignation as CEO and the appointment of former NBCUniversal ad executive Linda Yaccarino, who is recognized for her conservative beliefs as a prominent Trump supporter, Musk has the freedom to endorse anyone he desires on Twitter.
If we go back to the original reason stated by Musk, he shortly reiterated that after acquiring Twitter, the company took control of it, stating that it is important for the future of civilization to have a common digital town square where a wide range of beliefs can be debated in a healthy manner, without resorting to the great danger of currently generating more hate and division in society, echoing far left and far right chambers.
The opportunity for dialogue is wasted, resulting in the polarized extremes being encouraged and appeased by a significant portion of traditional media, as they believe this is what generates revenue. In an unyielding quest for online engagement, Musk proceeded to criticize mainstream media.
Musk is now shifting toward a more polarized Twitter model, criticized for creating an echo-chamber in the media and enabling right-wing voices that seem more authoritative and welcoming to them.
Musk has repeatedly broken his promises to allow speech he disagrees with by temporarily banning comedians, journalists, and others onto his platform. Twitter’s new verification system, which makes the right-wing more noticeable, has resulted in Musk stripping check marks from many politicians, reporters, and media organizations who refuse to pay. However, conservative accounts have embraced Musk’s new policies on hate speech and being verified under his new check mark system, which allows their content to show up higher in comments and replies. While Musk says that Twitter doesn’t endorse or amplify hateful content and that these accounts being allowed on the platform won’t turn off users or appear in people’s feeds, some argue that his approach is not about freedom of speech, but rather about reaching a wider audience, including white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and other hateful accounts.
Within the educational setting, the governor has given his approval to contentious recent legal changes in his state that impose limitations on how educational institutions can address matters of gender and race with students. Similar to Musk, DeSantis has faced allegations of going against his principles of free expression.
Despite his inability to achieve that vision, Musk remains committed to the dream of the digital town square. In contrast, while liberal individuals face criticism, conservative perspectives are frequently accepted by the owner of the platform. Twitter has now become a space where Musk can fully embrace this new paradigm.
Musk, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, expressed his desire to speak with politicians, both Democratic and Republican, although it remains unclear whether he is aligned with conservatives publicly. He also stated that he absolutely wants to interview Democrats across the spectrum.
Musk stated in an interview with the WSJ, “I am increasingly intrigued by Twitter’s role in disseminating announcements and content from various organizations. It seems to be gaining popularity in a specific community.”
Voices resonating from conservative circles suggest that if Twitter continues to alienate a wide range of users by echoing social truths similar to Parler, a now-defunct platform favored by Trump supporters, it may turn into something more akin to Parler. However, one could also argue that despite all the drama, Twitter cannot simply quit as it holds a diverse group of apolitical and left-leaning users who are not yet ready to leave. “The gravity of media center is shifting from Twitter to Fox,” wrote Mike Allen and Sara Fischer. Charlie Warzel from The Atlantic has argued that Twitter has transformed into a platform for far-right-wing individuals, while others claim it is a welcoming space for those on the opposite side. It is akin to a public town square where Elon Musk is building his own empire, but with open arms to all.
Every day, he posts messages to his 140 million Twitter supporters. It is Musk who manages the Twitter stream of information. Ultimately, he has already provided these individuals with free publicity and a platform to start their careers during critical moments. Musk has the capacity to enhance DeSantis, Carlson, and other conservatives he is collaborating with on Twitter so that they are prominently featured on people’s timelines. By controlling the stream of information on Twitter, Musk possesses the ability to direct attention towards the politicians he supports.
The one he desires is the comprehensive digital platform he pledged, but it is not the Twitter Musk is currently constructing. Nevertheless, it is evident now that the previous version of Twitter, and potentially even more of a divided and chaotic environment than something undoubtedly more conservative-leaning, is undergoing a complete transformation. A more recent deduction is that it is dwindling, but several sources, including this one, have recently stated that Twitter as we are familiar with it.
Update, May 24, 7:50 pm ET: This article has been revised with information from the DeSantis Twitter live event.