As Twitter courts Ron DeSantis and other right-wing figures, what will become of Truth Social?

 

By Sam Becker

On Wednesday evening, Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida is expected to announce his candidacy for president of the United States, and officially kick off his 2024 election campaign. A Republican, DeSantis will join others who have already announced—a list that includes former South Carolina governor and UN ambassador Nikki Haley, Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, and most prominently, former president Donald Trump. 

But DeSantis will kick off his candidacy in a way that none of the others—or anyone, for that matter—has done: on a Twitter live stream. NBC News reports that DeSantis will make his announcement during a Twitter Spaces event at 6 p.m. ET, which will also feature Twitter CEO Elon Musk. (Interestingly, this is less than a week after Musk tweeted support for Scott’s candidacy.)

DeSantis, who’s garnered a lot of attention in recent years for his staunch conservative views, culture-war posturing, and ongoing legal battles with Disney, is perhaps the right’s second-biggest star to try and harness the power of Twitter this month. A few weeks ago, Tucker Carlson announced he would be relaunching his show on Twitter after losing his job with Fox News in April. In all, it appears that DeSantis’s announcement amounts to another sign that Twitter, under Musk’s watch, is making a big rightward shift—one that’s not without risks.

That begs the question: Will Twitter’s right turn eventually transform it into a clone of Truth Social, the social media network founded by Donald Trump, and the one where Trump continues to post? And if it continues to bend to the right and court conservatives, does it risk running its liberal or left-leaning users off the platform entirely?

It’s hard to say right now, but it would mark a massive reconstitution of Twitter’s user base. A Pew Research study from 2020 found that roughly 70% of Twitter’s highly active users were Democrats or Democrat-leaning independents. It’s not unreasonable to suspect that a portion of those users have decided, or will, to jump ship if they feel the platform is transforming into a right-wing bastion; and, in fact, a more recent Pew study indicates that may have already started to happen.

So there’s a question as to whether lurching to the right is actually good for business.

But the other question is whether there’s enough room in the market for both Truth Social and a right-leaning Twitter. It’s possible, especially if the two platforms foment followings and user bases that are both dominated by different wings of the Republican party or conservative base. Trump, for instance, seemingly has little interest in rejoining Twitter since Musk reinstated his banned account in November, as he’s created his own personal version with Truth Social. Meanwhile, DeSantis and other Republicans may find themselves more comfortable on Twitter.

 

It could be fascinating to see it play out. 

In the meantime, though, DeSantis will likely be the next big Twitter star—at least for a night. But Trump’s team is already chirping away about it. Karoline Leavitt, a spokesperson for Make America Great Again, a Trump-supporting group, said (via Fox News and Twitter, interestingly) that DeSantis’s announcement is “one of the most out-of-touch campaign launches in modern history.”

She continued: “The only thing less relatable than a niche campaign launch on Twitter, is DeSantis’ after party at the uber elite Four Seasons resort in Miami.”

Fast Company

(9)