Elon Musk wants to turn Twitter into a “digital town square,” but his much-publicized Twitter Spaces kickoff event, with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announcing his run for president, struggled with technical glitches and a near half-hour delay Tuesday.
The billionaire Twitter owner said the problems were due to “straining” servers because so many people were trying to listen to the audio-only event. But even at their highest, the number of listeners listed topped out at around 420,000, far from the millions of viewers that televised presidential announcements attract.
“There’s so many people,” said host David Sacks amid the disruptions. “We’ve got so many people here that we are kind of melting the servers, which is a good sign.”
After it concluded without further disruptions, Musk, DeSantis and Sacks played off the event as a success, with Sacks quipping “it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish — and we finished really strong.”
Musk a day earlier dubbed the event a historic first for Twitter, saying it would be “the first time something like this is happening on social media.” The webcast was scheduled to start at 6 p.m. ET but nearly 30 minutes passed with users getting kicked off, hearing microphone feedback and enduring other technical problems before it finally began. The audience remained under 500,000.
DeSantis opponents had a field day with the delayed announcement.
“Glitchy. Tech issues. Uncomfortable silences. A complete failure to launch. And that’s just the candidate!” said Steven Cheung, a spokesperson for former President and current candidate Donald Trump.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from New York, tweeted, “We had more people join when I played Among Us,” referencing the popular video game.
Twitter has suffered a host of technical issues since Musk took over and fired or laid off roughly 80% of its staff — including engineers tasked with keeping the site running. A day before the DeSantis event, speaking at The Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council Summit in London, Musk expressed confidence about Twitter’s future and said he is “going to start adding people to the company” but gave no further details.
Musk bought Twitter last fall for $44 billion. Since then, he has upended the platform’s verification system, loosened its content moderation policies in line with his views as a “free speech absolutist,” spread misinformation and…
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