As more than half a million people attempted to tune into an audio Twitter Spaces event to hear Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announce his 2024 presidential campaign in an interview with Elon Musk, the app continually crashed, booted listeners, and emitted garbled sound — including snippets of hold music.
Instead of a seamless campaign launch, the 6 p.m. interview, like SpaceX‘s giant Starship rocket, exploded shortly after liftoff. And “liftoff” is putting it generously: After a period of awkward silence, the host, venture capitalist David Sacks, could be heard attempting to introduce DeSantis by mentioning the governor’s opposition to Covid-19 lockdowns during the pandemic. But he barely got through a sentence before sound cut out again.
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Later in the botched event, Musk seemed to be discussing technical issues with the broadcast. “So just to simplify this, we’re just going to use—” he said at one point, the audio then shutting off. He commented that there were “just so many people” on the call, and that Twitter was “reallocating” server resources to deal with the exceptionally large audience. As the troubleshooting continued for 20 minutes, instrumental music occasionally played.
Donald Trump, DeSantis’ presumptive chief rival for the 2024 Republican nomination, wasted no time in mocking the bumpy rollout. “Wow! The DeSanctus TWITTER launch is a DISASTER!” the former president wrote on Truth Social. President Biden‘s team got a crack in as well, tweeting out a donation link captioned “This link works.” The New York Times subsequently reported that Twitter employees had done no advance planning for the influx of more than 600,000 listeners.
DeSantis himself never spoke during the call and several times vanished from the Space. Users complained that the app repeatedly crashed, forcing them to log back in to keep listening to whispered conversations at Twitter HQ about what had gone wrong. Musk chuckled here and there, explaining, “I think we’ve got just a massive number of people online. It’s a … servers are straining somewhat.”
"Servers are straining somewhat" — Elon Musk on his Twitter Space with Ron DeSantis pic.twitter.com/XOm6jcX8G2
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 24, 2023
Eventually, the Twitter team gave up and started from scratch: Musk shared a new streaming link — this one from Sacks’ account — and DeSantis did make his campaign announcement. “Well, I am running for president of the United States, to lead our great American comeback,” he told Sacks, adding that “the country is going in the wrong direction.” He complained that Biden “takes his cues from the woke mob” and promised to “restore sanity” to the nation by “replacing the woke mind virus” — Musk’s favorite made-up civilizational threat — “with reality, facts, and enduring principles.”
In the course of the discussion that followed, DeSantis took questions from right-wing personalities, who flattered Musk for bringing “free speech” back to Twitter, and the governor for his “anti-woke” positions. Many of the issues touched upon reflected the extremely online nature of the announcement: DeSantis touted school book bans in Florida while also railing against “gender ideology,” diversity initiatives, and so-called “woke banking,” all while saying virtually nothing about the lives or needs of average voters.
Afterward, DeSantis appeared on Fox News, where host Trey Gowdy promised that the channel would not “crash” as Twitter had, spinning the disaster as a sign of the governor’s popularity. “Maybe you just had a big audience,” he said. “It did break the Twitter Space,” DeSantis said with a smile, “and so we’re really excited with the enthusiasm.” The two went on to talk about the necessity of “a war on ‘woke.'”
Early in the rebooted Twitter Space, which had a far smaller audience than the first, Sacks apologized to DeSantis for the prior “technical issues.” He asked the governor why he wanted to kick off his candidacy online rather than on TV. DeSantis expressed concerns over internet censorship, and said that Musk advocating for free speech through his takeover of Twitter was “significant for the future of our country.”
As long as the site functions, anyway.
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