Google and Facebook alumna Lexi Reese launched her campaign for the US Senate in California on Thursday, but you won’t see that announcement on Twitter.
Reese, who previously helped lead advertising for both Facebook and Google, said her campaign won’t leverage Twitter because of Elon Musk’s leadership at the company. In particular, Reese mentioned that of the platform reported an increase in hate speech and racial slurs since Musk’s takeover in 2022 as the reason her campaign avoids it.
“We should all – as much as possible – support people and companies with whom we share values and motivations,” Reese said in a statement to The edge Wednesday. “Under Elon Musk’s leadership, Twitter has become increasingly divisive, racist and sexist. It is a dumpster fire and it is dangerous for democracy.”
While Reese still plans to use other mainstream sites, such as Facebook and Instagram, to reach out to voters, her decision to abstain from Twitter shows how politically fraught a candidate’s choice of social platforms has become in recent years. Musk’s ownership of Twitter has been the most divisive.
Shortly after Musk bought the company last November, celebrity users came out Gigi Hadid to Trent Reznor began abandoning the platform en masse, denouncing an increase in toxicity under his new leadership. But Republicans welcomed the change, suggesting that Musk usher in a more conservatively friendly era of platform moderation.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, the Republican presidential nominee, announced his election bid in May in a glitchy Twitter space featuring Musk and tech investor David Sacks, seemingly in an effort to reach out to Musk’s growing conservative audience. Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an anti-vaccine activist and Democratic presidential candidate, joined Musk in his own Twitter Space in June. Kennedy has recently gained GOP support largely due to his past bans for spreading misinformation on platforms like Instagram.
For the past two election cycles, politicians have also been divided over TikTok. Last week, That reports NBC News that President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign will not participate in the popular video platform due to his administration’s belief that the app poses a risk to US national security. Other Democratic candidates, such as Representative Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) and Senator John Fetterman (D-PA), have used TikTok to reach voters despite these allegations. Also the Democratic National Committee has a TikTok account where it posts content in support of Biden to its more than 300,000 followers.
Still, Twitter is a difficult habit to break for politicians who have used the platform as a primary means of communication for more than a decade. Even some of Musk’s most ardent progressive critics, such as Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), still maintain Twitter accounts despite regularly criticizing the billionaire. Reese quit Twitter last year after Musk bought the company.
“None of the platforms are perfect, and we urgently need regulation as a country to curb the mental health problems and disinformation that social media supports and encourages,” Reese said. “Until that happens, I will have an ongoing conversation on most other platforms — navigating differences with respect about how we can make the California dream a reality for everyone.”