Google and Facebook alumna Lexi Reese launched her campaign for US Senate in California 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 be using Twitter due to Elon Musk’s leadership at the company. Specifically, Reese cited the platform’s reported rise in hate speech and racial slurs since Musk’s 2022 takeover as the reason her campaign is avoiding it.
“We should all support — as much as possible — people and businesses with whom we share values and motivations,” Reese said in a statement to The Verge Wednesday. “Under Elon Musk’s leadership, Twitter has been increasingly divisive, racist, and sexist. It’s a dumpster fire and it’s dangerous for democracy.”
While Reese still plans to use other mainstream sites, like Facebook and Instagram, to reach 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.
Soon after Musk purchased the company last November, celebrity users from Gigi Hadid to Trent Reznor began leaving the platform in droves, decrying an increase in toxicity under its new leadership. But Republicans welcomed the change, suggesting Musk would usher in a more conservative-friendly era of platform moderation.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Republican presidential candidate, announced his election bid in a glitchy Twitter Space with Musk and tech investor David Sacks in May, seemingly in an attempt to reach 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 garnered GOP support largely due to his past bans for spreading misinformation on platforms like Instagram.
For the past two election cycles, politicians have been split on TikTok as well. Last week, NBC News reported that President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign won’t be joining the popular video platform due to his administration’s belief that the app poses a risk to US national security. Other Democratic candidates, like Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) and Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA), have used TikTok to reach voters, despite these accusations. The Democratic National Committee also has a TikTok account where it posts content in support of Biden to its over 300,000 followers.
Still, Twitter has been a difficult habit to break for politicians who have been using the platform as a primary means of communication for more than a decade. Even some of Musk’s most ardent progressive critics, like Sens. 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 as a country desperately need regulations to curb the mental health ailments and disinformation aided and abetted by social media,” Reese said. “Until that happens, I’ll be on most other platforms to have an ongoing conversation — navigating differences with respect about how we can make the California dream a reality for everyone.”