Florida Governor Ron DeSantis filed the paperwork to officially launch his presidential campaign this afternoon, but opted to join Elon Musk on Twitter Space to discuss his campaign on Wednesday evening. DeSantis’ decision to forgo traditional news spots in favor of creating a big media moment with Musk marks a new phase for the social network — and one that would have been impossible to return to in 2016 or 2020.
DeSantis met Musk on friendly ground. Despite signs to the contrary, Musk’s views are firmly conservative, with a focus on social and cultural issues that has progressed since his decision to buy Twitter. Last year, Musk explicitly stated that he planned to support DeSantis’ potential bid for the presidency, calling him a “sensible and centrist” choice. Musk had earlier encouraged his 140 million followers to vote for republican in the 2022 midterm elections.
Musk has increasingly aligned himself with the political right, including at times its more dangerous, conspiracy-fuelled edge. This month, Musk promoted the lie that the mass shooter who killed eight people at a Dallas-area shopping mall this month was being framed as a white supremacist. In fact, as the researchers confirmed, the gunman sported at least two openly Nazi symbols as tattoos, including an SS symbol and a swastika, and espoused white supremacist beliefs online.
Florida’s governor and Twitter’s new owner share ideological territory. Both Musk and DeSantis — the self-styled “anti-woke” governor of Florida — have been critical of their ideological enemies (the wake up crowd or “Waking Mind Virus” in Musk’s language). Musk has gone out of his way to relax enforcement and raise the guardrails that protect vulnerable groups like the LGBTQ community on Twitter, while DeSantis is systematically dismantling any protections that queer and transgender Floridians may have had a The bar enjoyed and blocked education around black history. (Things are so bad in the Sunshine State that both the NAACP and the Human Rights Campaign recently issued travel advisories.) Both DeSantis and Musk hold particular anger for the transgender community, which they regularly politicize in their respective domains. expressed using force.
The Twitter space with Florida’s newly minted presidential candidate isn’t the only sign that Twitter is entering a new era. When the shakeup at Fox News ousted longtime top host Tucker Carlson, he immediately announced his show will be rebuilt For the new incarnation of Musk’s Twitter. DeSantis’ Twitter moment also signals that the social platform is now home to conservative political moments that once appeared on Fox News. It’s also a sign that Twitter may not be the social nexus for Trump’s base, even after Musk warmly welcomed the former president.
twitter and trump
The Florida governor’s decision to unofficially shut down his campaign on Twitter is the latest sign that the social platform is evolving into something very different from what it has been in the past. For years, Twitter as a platform was synonymous with Trump – his main rival in the race for the 2024 Republican nomination.
The former president, who first won the Republican nomination in 2016, tweets more than 50 times, several times a day. That hyperactive Twitter presence defined his presidency, as did his trademark style of erratic capitalization and outrageous typos (one coffee please, no milk sugar). After years of breaking the platform’s rules, Trump is finally being removed from Twitter permanently in 2021 for his role in encouraging the attack on the US Capitol.
Since then, Trump has mostly moved to the fringes of mainstream social media. Meanwhile, Twitter itself has undergone a transformation that in some ways aligns it politically with the former president more than ever, even as Musk seeks to elevate DeSantis.
Trump’s Twitter fortunes changed when Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk decided to take the helm at the company, buying it last October for $44 billion. Musk, who for months controlled Twitter policy based on his whims and political preferences, overrode Trump’s ban shortly after taking office. But Trump remained silent on the platform where he previously spent hours every day, perhaps because he is still involved with TruthSocial, the alternative app branded under his name. Meanwhile, Trump is attacking his new rival and instead fueling age-old election conspiracies out there.
Twitter has changed rapidly under Musk’s chaotic tutelage. The acquisition decimated Twitter’s workforce, left the platform’s existing moderation and security practices in shambles and left a vast majority of users and advertisers uninterested in an even more toxic version of the notoriously toxic social network. Twitter alternatives have cropped up and evolved modestly over the months as Musk weeded out former Twitter power users in the process. It’s unclear whether the company plans to roll back from any Musk-era decisions when Twitter’s new ad-savvy CEO, NBCUniversal’s Linda Yacarino, takes the top job. It’s more likely that Kasturi’s Twitter will bend further into its new thing — and we’re watching everything we’re getting in real time.