Don’t wait for liberal exodus from Elon Musk’s Twitter

It even suggests that some in Congress should make the call long before they know what Twitter will look like under the Mask.

Asked how Musk’s takeover of Twitter could affect his use of the platform, Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) said, “I won’t change my habits and I have no idea what to do about it.”

Schatz has almost 400,000 followers on Twitter. Progressive power users like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) – with 15.5 million subscribers – and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (DN.Y.) – with 12.9 million – did not talk about whether the Musk takeover would change their approach to Twitter. Sen too. Elizabeth Warren (Massachusetts) with 5.8 million subscribers who condemned the purchase of Musk as “dangerous to our democracy”.

A number of political strategists have said that Twitter is an important way to reach voters and that they will advise customers to maintain their accounts.

“If voters use Twitter, candidates should be able to communicate directly with them wherever they are,” said Mark Jablonowski, managing partner of DSPolitical, a digital advertising company that supports Democratic candidates.

However, strategists say most politicians are turning to other social networks like Instagram and Facebook, which have large user bases, to reach more voters directly. The nearly 40 million active Twitter users in the US are dwarfed by Facebook’s over 200 million monthly active users.. Where Twitter really has influence is among journalists, Washington insiders and lawmakers themselves.

Andrew Bleeker, president of Bully Pulpit Interactive, a Democratic-focused communications firm, said politicians need to use the platform to reach this small group of superusers.

“In particular, journalism and Congress live in a very small Twitter bubble and communicate with each other,” Bleecker said.

“Most Americans, when they think about Twitter, don’t think about politics,” he said.

That’s probably one of the reasons short-tempered conservative Republicans are pushing so hard to change Twitter, rather than just go to another right-wing platform like Gettr, Gab, or Truth Social, linked to former President Donald Trump. “Twitter has never been a very important platform for connecting with voters. It was a very important channel for shaping narratives and engaging with opinion makers, the elite and journalists,” said Eric Wilson, managing partner of Startup Caucus, a Republican campaign technology incubator.

Some Democratic politicians are portraying staying on Twitter as not getting in the fray.

J. A. Moore, a Democratic member of the South Carolina House of Representatives running for re-election, said he would remain on the platform even if Musk lifts current restrictions on Twitter content.

“My brand of politics is the brand where I don’t run away from a fight or an uncomfortable situation,” Moore said.

That’s exactly what Musk says he’s hoping for. “I hope even my worst critics stay on Twitter, because that’s what freedom of speech is all about.” he tweeted on monday.

However, if Musk’s promise to unleash free speech on Twitter goes too far and is full of harassment, hate speech and disinformation, Jablonowski predicts it could alienate some candidates.

“After all, most of the time candidates have a very carefully maintained public image, and it is often paramount to not associate with questionable content,” he said. “If Twitter becomes a poisonous wasteland, I can’t imagine that this is a place where candidates would want to participate.”

The closest some politicians come to publicly ditching less moderated Twitter is to say they’ll wait to see how bad it gets.

“As a politician from Michigan, where misinformation and disinformation has been plentiful and harmful, I am concerned about how this looks,” said Christine Morse, Democratic representative in the Michigan House of Representatives. But she added: “I’m not going to leave Twitter at this point in time because I’ll wait to see what happens.”

The individual accounts of politicians were particularly important because Twitter banned political ads in 2019, saying such ads were unfair. preference for campaigns with deep pockets (although critics have argued that the ban itself provides an advantage to actors).

While Musk hasn’t solved the issue of political ads, the ban is one decision made by former CEO Jack Dorsey that Musk can reverse. Twitter had nothing to lose financially by banning political ads that only generated $3 million in revenue from the 2018 midterms.

Jablonowski said if Musk lifts his ban on political ads, the site could become even more valuable to Democrats, no matter what they think of its new owner.

“When you have these massive political bans, it usually negatively impacts Democrats more than Republicans,” he said. Jablonowski argued that Democrats have a more diverse base, making targeted political advertising more important, meaning that bans ultimately “hinder Democrats’ ability to be as competitive in political elections.”

While conservative Republicans generally welcome Musk’s takeover, some have said they are also baffled about what masked Twitter could mean for conservative candidates and campaigns if it becomes rife with harassment, hate speech and misinformation.

Wilson of the Republican-focused startup group said that if Musk removes almost all content moderation rules and Twitter becomes a “cesspool”, then “people will get out of the cesspool.”

And some in the Republican Party are even worried that any reappearance of Trump, who was permanently banned by Twitter after the January 2021 Capitol uprising, could create problems for Republican candidates in the midterms. On Monday, Trump told Fox News he had no plans to return to Twitter, but former advisers said he was still considering a return.

“It will certainly boost Trump’s opinion — and hold candidates and GOP members accountable for it,” House GOP House aide said in an interview with POLITICO’s Playbook. “It’s enough to create a headache – and it’s enough to probably cost us a couple of seats.”

Anthony Adragna contributed to this report.