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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Launches Presidential Campaign on Twitter Spaces with Elon Musk Amid Technical Glitches and Controversial Content Moderation Policies

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has officially launched his presidential campaign in a Twitter Spaces chat with Elon Musk, the owner of the social media platform.[0] DeSantis filed his presidential paperwork with the Federal Election Commission on the same day, making him an official candidate for the 2024 Republican nomination.[1] The Twitter Spaces event was intended to be the keystone of DeSantis's launch but suffered multiple technical glitches, including long periods of silence when neither the moderator, the candidate nor Musk could be heard.[2] Musk has carved out an intense following since he purchased Twitter, with the promise to return “free speech” after years of complaints from the right that the site had tried to censor conservatives.[3] One of the sources familiar with the plans told NBC News that DeSantis's aides have been watching Twitter become an increasingly friendly space for conservative firebrands under Musk's leadership, allowing them to speak directly to their conservative audience and bypass traditional media.[3] Musk has the power to drive attention to the politicians he favors by controlling the fire hose of information on Twitter, enabling them to seem more authoritative, boosting their voices, and allowing more controversial speech.[4] However, Musk has allowed neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hateful accounts back on his platform under his “freedom of speech but not freedom of reach” approach to content moderation.[4] While Musk says that Twitter doesn't endorse hateful content and won't amplify it in people's feeds, the fact that these accounts are allowed on the platform has turned off some users.[4] But conservative accounts have embraced Musk's new hate speech policies and paid their way into being verified under Musk's new check mark system, which allows their content to show up higher in replies and comments.[4] At the same time, Musk has stripped check marks from many media organizations, reporters, and politicians who refuse to pay for verification, making Twitter's new check-marked class look markedly more right-wing.[4]

0. “Biden, others mock DeSantis' 2024 announcement crash on Twitter” USA TODAY, 24 May. 2023, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2023/05/24/ron-desantis-twitter-crash-biden/70254895007/

1. “Florida governor Ron DeSantis announces 2024 presidential bid” The Guardian US, 24 May. 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/may/24/ron-desantis-announces-2024-presidential-bid

2. “Florida Republican Governor Seeks to Thwart Trump’s White House Return” Voice of America – VOA News, 25 May. 2023, https://www.voanews.com/a/florida-republican-governor-seeks-to-thwart-trump-s-white-house-return/7108333.html

3. “Report: Ron DeSantis Will Formally Announce His 2024 Bid With Elon Musk, Because Apparently David Duke Wasn’t Available” Vanity Fair, 23 May. 2023, https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2023/05/ron-desantis-elon-musk-2024-announcement

4. “Why Ron DeSantis and Tucker Carlson love Elon Musk and Twitter” Vox.com, 24 May. 2023, https://www.vox.com/technology/2023/5/24/23735940/elon-musk-ron-desantis-twitter-tucker-carlson-2024-election

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