Elon Musk’s Event With Ron DeSantis Exposes Twitter’s Weaknesses

Hosting Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, in a Twitter audio event on Wednesday to announce his presidential run was supposed to be a triumphant moment for Elon Musk, the owner of Twitter.

Instead, the event began with more than 20 minutes of technical glitches, hot mic moments and drowned-out and half-said conversations before the livestream abruptly cut out. Minutes later, the livestream was restarted as hundreds of thousands of listeners tried to tune in. Mr. DeSantis had not said a word at that point.

“That was insane, sorry,” Mr. Musk said.

Behind the stop-start Twitter Space, an audio-only livestream on the social network, was a company that has undergone major changes in recent months. Since Mr. Musk bought Twitter last year for $44 billion, he has reshaped it by cutting more than 75 percent of its work force, changing the speech rules and reinstating suspended users. Outages have been on the rise, as have bugs that have made Twitter less usable.

The technical problems on Wednesday showed how Twitter is operating far from seamlessly, turning what was supposed to be a crowning event for Mr. Musk into something of an embarrassment.

The event had been an opportunity for Mr. Musk, an unpredictable executive with interests in many fields, to promote multiple agendas. Those included a political coming-out for the billionaire, who has flirted with right-wing accounts and politics for years on Twitter but has never embraced a presidential candidate the way he has Mr. DeSantis. And it was supposed to be a way for Mr. Musk to advance his business interests by highlighting Twitter, which he is trying to turn around.

“He’s being clear that he will use his media platform to advance his own political interests in a way that is unprecedented in its overtness,” said Jason Goldman, a former vice president of product at Twitter.

Mr. Musk did not respond to a request for comment.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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