Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announces 2024 presidential candidacy in Twitter event hosted by Elon Musk, amidst controversy over Twitter’s conservative-friendly policies and technical glitches
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has announced his candidacy for the 2024 presidential election, with a launch event on Twitter hosted by Elon Musk. DeSantis’ campaign has been boosted by Twitter’s shift towards a more conservative-friendly space under Musk’s ownership, with the CEO using his control of the platform’s information flow to direct attention towards the politicians he favours. This has enabled conservative firebrands to speak directly to their audience and bypass traditional media, giving them a platform to appear more authoritative. However, Musk’s approach to content moderation has been criticised for allowing neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hateful accounts back onto the platform. While Musk claims that Twitter does not 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. Nevertheless, conservative accounts have embraced Musk’s new hate speech policies and paid their way into being verified under his new check-mark system, which allows their content to show up higher in replies and comments.
DeSantis is now the most formidable contender to dethrone former President Donald Trump from atop the Republican Party. DeSantis’ blend of pro-business conservatism and culture-war populism is set to be put to the test at the national level. However, DeSantis’ launch was marred by a series of technical glitches on Twitter Spaces, causing the event to be delayed for at least 30 minutes. Since Musk assumed control of the platform in the latter part of last year, Twitter has encountered a myriad of technical glitches and downtimes. Since his acquisition of Twitter in October, Musk has terminated almost 66% of the workforce, which includes a significant number of engineers. Consequently, the platform has experienced frequent technical issues and shutdowns.
On Wednesday afternoon, DeSantis became an official candidate by submitting his presidential paperwork to the Federal Election Commission. By making the announcement, DeSantis will establish himself as the leading Republican contender against former President Donald Trump, who has consistently maintained a lead in the polls among primary candidates. DeSantis signed into law a bill in Florida that alters the state’s “Resign to Run” rule, which will allow him to legally run for president without tendering his resignation from the office of the Governor.
However, DeSantis has faced criticism for his changes to election laws that Democrats and voting rights groups say are unnecessary, harmful and would restrict votes from communities of color, which skews Democratic. The bill makes 27 changes to the state’s Elections Code and also cracks down on voter registration groups, amping up the maximum fees groups could face for violating laws and shortening their window to turn in applications. According to the Democrats who opposed the bill, it imposes unjust penalties on organizations that register a significant number of Black and Hispanic voters. Third-party voter registration organizations are also required to re-register with the state every election cycle. Voting rights groups have sued DeSantis over changes in a 2021 law that limited ballot drop boxes and also restricted who could return a voter’s mail-in ballot, as well as how many ballots one person could turn in to an elections office. Last year, a federal judge in Florida invalidated the majority of the law, stating that it trampled on the right to vote and unjustly discriminated against minorities.
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