Republicans are still sticking with Twitter, despite the platform’s challenges and the “X” rebrand.
“A lot of these changes take time to really materialize,” said Sen. JD Vance.
“Why would you cut off your nose to spite your face?” said Rep. Nancy Mace.
The response to Elon Musk’s reshaping of Twitter — which he recently re-named “X” — has, perhaps predictably, broken down along familiar partisan lines.
Up to and after Musk’s takeover of the all-important social media website was completed in late October of last year, Democrats have consistently been critical, warning that changes to the site’s content moderation policies and Twitter verification business model have made the platform a key vector for misinformation.
As the tenor of political discourse on Twitter changes — and the platform itself experiences frequent hiccups owing in part to Musk’s gutting of engineering staff — many Democrats have even taken to potential alternatives, including Instagram’s recently-launched “Threads” platform and Bluesky.
But Republicans — who largely cheered Musk’s takeover as a victory for free speech online — indicated in interviews with Insider at the Capitol last week that they remain along for the ride, and are exercising patience as the site undergoes near-weekly shake-ups.
“It’s very hard to figure out what the platform is going to look like in six months,” said Sen. JD Vance of Ohio. “A lot of these changes take time to really materialize.”
“I think there’s still some evidence that certain accounts are shadow-banned that shouldn’t be,” Vance lamented. “But by and large, I think letting people back on the platform, allowing it to be an open exchange for debate, that’s a good thing.”
At the time, Vance happened to be in the process of firing off a tweet about Hunter Biden’s plea deal. “I’m tweeting right now,” he said.
“He’s got a vision that some share, and some don’t,” Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina said of Musk. “Some of it I think we get confused by, but then other things have been really brilliant.”
Mace said she was particularly fond of “Community Notes,” a fact-checking measure implemented after Musk’s takeover that adds context to controversial tweets, though not always consistently.
“I haven’t — knock on wood — been fact-checked yet,” said Mace. “But other people that I’ve called out for bullshit have been fact-checked by it, and I think it’s really cool to see.”
But even Mace and Vance don’t seem to know what to make of the “X” re-brand.
“Are we calling it X now? I don’t understand that part of it,” Mace remarked.
“I guess I don’t have a strong view about the ‘X’ thing,” said Vance. “Seems fine, Twitter seemed fine, don’t really care.”
Rep. Chip Roy of Texas, a prominent member of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus who frequently uses Twitter to engage with users, said he’s happy that the “lockdown on free speech seems to have been largely lifted” but noted that there have “been some hiccups along the way.”
And don’t expect Roy to cough up the $8 now required to be “verified” on the platform.
“I haven’t done that,” said Roy. “I just don’t care about most of this stuff.”
Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, who says he browses both Twitter and Threads, indicated that he doesn’t take Democratic gripes about the platform all that seriously.
“I think each party delights when the opposition takes a shot at the knees,” said Romney. “So you know, Musk is taking it in a more conservative direction. That’s kind of the nature of our free system.”
Romney, who was notably busted in 2019 for maintaining a secret Twitter account called “Pierre Delecto,” was coy when asked whether he still had such an account.
“I don’t know that I have an answer to that,” said Romney.
He maintained, however, that aside from messaging from his official accounts, he doesn’t engage in any commentary on the platform, such as when he defended himself against criticism from the old, anonymized “Delecto” account.
“I don’t know how I sign in,” said Romney. “It’s just on my iPad, I hit the button, it says Twitter, and then I read.”
Some Republicans did suggest that their Twitter usage has gone down lately, though they cited the importance of their day jobs — and not being too online — rather than particular issues they had with the platform.
“I didn’t really like Twitter before, I don’t really like Twitter now,” said Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas, who described himself as “exhausted” with the platform.
“I focus a lot more on Instagram and Facebook,” said Crenshaw. “I mean, just go find your constituents and ask them what they use on a daily basis, and they’ll tell you that’s what they use.”
Rep. Tom Tiffany of Wisconsin also said his usage — which “goes in streaks” — has dropped off recently, which he said was “probably a little bit of a result of being in the majority and just being busier.”
But Tiffany sounded an optimistic note about Musk’s recent decision to allow certain users to monetize their content by giving them some of the revenue from advertisements on their tweets.
“I think it’s a terrific change,” said Tiffany. “If there’s something that I’ve really disliked about the social media companies, it’s that they’ve really bankrupted the news business, especially local news.”
For Mace, remaining on the platform is also just a matter of expediency — despite everything, Twitter has yet to be dislodged as a key central source for information distribution.
“Twitter is still one of the number one platforms that you can communicate on, so why would you cut off your nose to spite your face? That’s not smart politics,” she said.
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