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Tuesday 26 September 2023 Dublin: 13°C
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# crashed
Ron DeSantis' disastrous campaign launch: Bad for the candidate, even worse for Elon Musk
“It’s just gonna keep crashing, huh?”

RON DESANTIS OFFICIALLY launched his campaign to be the Republican nominee for President of the United States. Or, at least, he tried.

The Florida governor had raised eyebrows by choosing announce his candidacy through Twitter Spaces, an audio-only platform on the Twitter app.

Historically speaking, such announcements have almost always been made from behind a podium, in front of an audience of adoring supporters, and carried on every major news network across the USA.

Even Donald Trump, a man who spent years hopelessly addicted to Twitter, chose to launch his presidential campaign through relatively traditional means back in 2015. 

It was a bold move by DeSantis, and it failed to pay off. 

Originally slated to start at 6pm EST, the broadcast was still glitching after 17 minutes. Beset by unexplained delays, the Space was off to an inauspicious start, and it only got worse from there.

10 minutes in, an unidentified voice, presumably someone trying to help Musk fix the problem, could be heard saying: “It’s gonna just keep crashing, huh?” 

Feedback noise from the hosts’ (Musk and his friend David Sacks) microphones made the audio sound like it was being beamed in from Rigel VII. 

“There’s a massive number of people online, so servers are straining somewhat,” Musk explained, sounding for all the world like a guy recording his first podcast. For the next ten minutes, the audio repeatedly cut out, and the home screen was replaced with a message that said ‘Spaces – Details not available’.

Eventually, Musk made the executive decision to can the existing Space and start a new one. When, at last, the broadcast started working, PayPal co-founder Sacks incorrectly introduced it as a “record audience” and referred to it as “probably the biggest room that’s probably ever been assembled online”. 

26 minutes late, DeSantis finally got the chance to make his big announcement – to no applause, no fanfare, with all the authority of a coworker on a Zoom call with a bad internet connection.

Almost immediately, DeSantis’ disastrous failure to launch opened font of mockery from both the right and the left, with figures such as President Joe Biden, former President Donald Trump, an Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez all posting jokes about the unmitigated shitshow.


Biden's Twitter account posted a link to a donation page for his own campaign with the caption "This link works". Trump, subtle as ever, had his team mock up his own Twitter Space, featuring DeSantis alongside the likes of Adolf Hitler, and of course, Satan.

While it seems intuitive that such a nightmarish opening salvo will be bad for DeSantis' fledgling campaign, it's easy to see how the ramifications could be even worse for Elon Musk and his stewardship of Twitter.

In what was an opportunity to showcase the broadcasting capabilities of the platform to an audience of hundreds of thousands, as well as the millions more paying attention from a distance, Twitter gave up the ghost.

Instead of proving itself a worthy alternative to established media outlets, the website instead demonstrated that it is by no means capable of airing a political broadcast of any importance. Any public figure who had been monitoring DeSantis' launch will have almost certainly been scared off ever trying to to conduct such a broadcast themselves. 

"We're just reallocating more server capability," Musk explained. While it would be alluring for DeSantis supporters to assume the crashes were due to a 'break the internet' surge of interest viewers, the reality is that Twitter in its current guise is just very easy to break, and often does.  

Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez noted that the Twitter Space crashed while only around 100,000 people were watching - a rather paltry figure compared to the 400,000 that watched her play the popular video game Among Us on Discord in 2020. Others noted that were was a bigger turnout for a Twitter Space that featured Declan Rice rapping 'Ice Ice Baby' in 2021. 

Since Musk's takeover, which was swiftly followed by a redundancies for more than half of the company's staff, Twitter's functionality has fallen off a cliff. There could be no clearer evidence than last night's failure to launch.

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