A fourth San Francisco supervisor has shuttered their Twitter account, as Elon Musk’s ownership of the app tests the will of even elected officials in the app's hometown to stay online.
Supervisors Myrna Melgar, Connie Chan, Shamann Walton and Hillary Ronen have deactivated, deleted or left their accounts stagnant. Others on the 11-member body plan to remain, and a few have even subscribed to Twitter Blue, the $8 monthly service that comes with a blue verification check mark and other features.
When asked what the impetus for leaving was, Melgar said Twitter wanted payment in order to keep the check-mark verification starting on Thursday, when legacy verified accounts that had not yet subscribed to Twitter Blue appeared to lose the check marks.
“Not worth it,” Melgar said in a text to The Standard. “Also I don’t know what it is about Twitter, but so many trolls! Far more than other social media.”
Since Musk purchased Twitter in October, the app and its San Francisco headquarters have endured numerous missteps and controversies. Twitter users have questioned whether to remain as a series of glitches, noticeable increase in trolling by other users and scrambled timelines have brought more headaches to the online experience. The company itself, which technically merged into another entity called X Corp last week, has seen mass layoffs, the alleged nonpayment of rent and other bills and a reported $24 billion drop in value from the $44 billion that Musk paid.
Additionally, Musk and San Francisco city officials have increasingly fired shots back and forth. The Twitter CEO was among those who pinned blame for the April 4 stabbing death of tech executive Bob Lee on San Francisco's political leaders for tolerating lawlessness. After Lee's personal acquaintance Nima Momeni was arrested as a suspect, District Attorney Brooke Jenkins blasted Musk's tweets as irresponsible and reckless.
On April 12, the Board of Supervisors passed a nonbinding resolution discouraging city agencies from subscribing to Twitter Blue, to Musk’s clear displeasure. Supervisor Hillary Ronen quietly left Twitter several days after that.
The Standard reached out to all supervisors and the Mayor’s Office.
Like Melgar, Chan feels Twitter is not worth the trouble these days. While the site once satiated a thirst for information, technical issues have persisted after Musk took over.
The District 1 supervisor deleted the app in November in hopes that re-downloading it might help. After a few days, she asked herself, “Why do I feel so much better about life?
“Social media has a whole expectation as an elected official, but it’s not there to protect me as an Asian female,” Chan told The Standard. “My mental health was better. It’s just such a toxic space.”
Chan said reaching constituents through a newsletter and meeting them at community events or town halls works out better.
Other supervisors have left Twitter indirectly. Walton’s account was hacked in November, with his pictures replaced by images that appeared to be of a day trader from Utah. He hasn’t been able to log on since then.
“Don’t have time to be concerned about getting on Twitter,” Walton said by text.
Historically, some San Francisco politicians have been more active than others on Twitter, with follower counts of between 5,000 and 15,000. A few have a reach that extends beyond San Francisco, like Supervisor Dean Preston and Mayor London Breed, whose account exceeds 100,000 followers.
Recently elected supervisors Matt Dorsey and Joel Engardio are subscribed to Twitter Blue. Dorsey cited the ability to post longer videos and tweets, while Engardio said he pays for the account in order to have a more secure account with two-factor authentication.
“I try to reach residents everywhere they’re at, from Nextdoor to Instagram,” Engardio said in a text.
Supervisor Ahsha Safaí, who told The Standard last month he is weighing running for mayor, said Twitter has not asked him to pay to keep the check mark and he is not considering leaving the website at this time. Both Supervisor Rafael Mandelman and Breed’s office confirmed they are still on Twitter and not paying for services, as evidenced by the missing blue check on their respective accounts.