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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was supposed to officially announce his presidential bid ahead of the 2024 election in a blockbuster live audio stream on Twitter with Elon Musk — and he did, except the announcement was beset with technical issues ranging from lost audio and disappearing co-hosts to session launch failures, odd noise echo, and UI crashes.
Moderated by venture capitalist David Sacks, the first Twitter Spaces session ended abruptly on its first try, and a fresh session was started with nearly 600,000 users tuning in. Musk, however, seemed to validate a tweet that claimed the number of listeners was higher than 700,000. Regardless of the exact number of peak listeners, Sacks attributed the glitches to “scaling challenges,” or in simple terms, system infrastructure failure.
DeSantis’ speech lasted only a few minutes, in which he formally launched his election campaign and then talked about a wide range of topics ranging from Bitcoin to the FBI during the Q&A session. Meanwhile, political commentators were quick to point out the technical woes. The rocky start to the session doesn’t bode well for Twitter as a platform as it takes steps toward becoming a content creation hotspot. The company is courting creators with features like video uploads as long as two hours, and it recently became the new home for Tucker Carlson’s show.
Twitter’s servers were ‘melting’ under the load
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The audio-only stream was claimed by Sacks as “the biggest room ever held on social media,” but critics were quick to call that claim into question. When compared against other platforms like Twitch and YouTube, the numbers touted for DeSantis’ Twitter Spaces session aren’t particularly notable. For example, “Fortnite” drew 12 million concurrent viewers during its Travis Scott concert. Among other things, Sacks had quipped that Twitter’s servers were “kind of melting” under the load of concurrent viewers.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 24, 2023
But more than contentious listener figures, it was the technical issues with Twitter as an online platform that created social media buzz. Critics are linking the “scaling challenges” to the aggressive restructuring that Musk undertook at Twitter as part of cost-cutting measures following his $44 billion acquisition last year. Aside from laying off nearly two-thirds of Twitter employees, Musk reportedly also aggressively scaled down the backend infrastructure and shuttered active projects. In the wake of the tech troubles, the #DeSaster hashtag started making rounds on Twitter, and even President Biden joined in taking a potshot, which Musk himself appeared to enjoy.