Gov. Ron DeSantis announces his 2024 run for the GOP presidential nomination on Wednesday night via a Twitter live stream, only to be drowned out by a chorus of technical glitches. This first-of-its-kind event, heavily touted by DeSantis and Twitter owner Elon Musk, unfortunately, didn’t live up to the hype.
The live stream took place on Twitter Spaces, Twitter’s platform for audio-only broadcasts, hosted by Musk and tech entrepreneur David Sacks. The idea was for the hosts to chat about the presidential race before introducing DeSantis. But due to technical difficulties, DeSantis remained mute for the better part of the first half hour.
The technical glitches were so severe that Musk and Sacks had to restart the event. The interruption led to the number of listeners plummeting from 500,000 to a mere 250,000. Consequently, hundreds of thousands of users who were tuned in for DeSantis’s big moment missed out on the live broadcast.
Radio host Erick-Woods Erickson termed the event a “bold mistake” on his Substack account. He added that such significant moments as a campaign launch should be firmly within the candidate’s control.
Sacks attempted to dismiss the glitches, attributing them to the event’s high popularity. He quipped, “I think you broke the internet there,” as the program restarted, and later added, “You know you’re breaking new ground when there are bugs and scaling issues.”
However, social media observers pointed out that these mishaps are not a novelty. Twitter outages have been on the rise since Musk took over, hinting at problems deeper than mere scaling issues. Since becoming the owner, Musk has deregulated content sharing, leading to a surge in hateful posts, predominantly from far-right users. He also downsized the company workforce by a whopping 75%.
Despite these hiccups, Musk himself recognized the technical flaws, apologizing to users after the restart. “That was insane, sorry,” he admitted.
Anonymous Twitter employees expressed their apprehensions prior to the event, doubting the site’s ability to handle the anticipated traffic spike. They revealed that there was no preparedness to tackle any “site reliability issues,” leading to a far-from-smooth experience for users.
The event, mired in controversy even before it aired, was meant to be a proud moment for Musk. Instead, it turned into a source of humiliation. Musk, despite his claims of political neutrality, has been accused of steering the site towards the right, often using his platform to ridicule progressives while elevating far-right figures.
DeSantis, a controversial figure himself, has been denounced by critics for his harsh policies targeting marginalized groups in Florida, with his actions often labeled as “proto-fascist.”
Operating under the guise of “freedom,” DeSantis has been accused of assaulting the civil rights of women, immigrants, LGBTQ individuals, teachers, students, and labor unions, among others. He signed a restrictive six-week abortion ban into law, denied students their civil rights by allowing censorship of books deemed inappropriate (often those featuring LGBTQ and/or Black characters), and implemented harsh anti-immigrant policies.
These actions have led some critics to label Florida under DeSantis as a “laboratory of fascist politics”. Robert Reich, former secretary of the treasury during the Clinton administration, and historian Ruth Ben-Ghiat, among others, have gone on record to call DeSantis a fascist, echoing the sentiments of many concerned observers.