SF Supervisor Dean Preston says he's deleting his Twitter/X account, two weeks after the company's owner, Elon Musk, tweeted that Preston should "go to prison," becoming the latest in a string of city supervisors to leave the platform.
Citing a rise in harassment, anti-semitism, and misinformation since Musk made the late-September threat against him — along with Musk's possibly empty threat to donate $100,000 to an effort to oust him — Preston says he's leaving Twitter for good.
"It’s a reality check that it’s not a safe or productive place to share my thoughts," Preston tells the Chronicle. "Twitter has been overwhelmed by trolls and disinformation since Musk took over. With the owner of the site calling for me to be jailed, it became clearer it was time to move to a new platform."
It's not clear why it took two weeks for Preston to come to this decision — after he put out a press release on September 29 calling Musk a "billionaire fascist" and "increasingly unhinged."
This week, Preston came under fire from local Jewish leaders for putting out a statement that seemed to show sympathy for Hamas following its deadly attacks in Israel last weekend, and failed to outright denounce the group's acts of violence. The statement called Israel's military response "unconscionable" and said, "I continue to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people in their struggle for freedom and an end to the occupation."
Preston issued a followup statement two days later, saying, "I condemn the recent Hamas attack on Israeli civilians" and "I condemn the Israeli government’s response," adding, "These positions are not mutually exclusive, nor are they contradictory in my opinion." But Preston likely faced significant blowback on X/Twitter after these statements, even though he did not post the statements to the platform.
He tells the Chronicle that the vitriol on the platform has become too much, and he's not accomplishing anything in terms of reaching voters — as he puts it, the reality on Twitter is "not the reality in the district."
In leaving X/Twitter, Preston is following in the footsteps of supervisors Shamann Walton, Myrna Melgar, Hillary Ronen, and Connie Chan who have all either stopped tweeting or deleted their accounts since Musk's takeover of the company.
That leaves just over half of the SF Board of Supervisors still on the platform.
Preston may now make use of some other social media platform as he runs for reelection next year. He will likely face onetime Assembly candidate and former Obama Administration staffer Bilal Mahmood in the race. And the Chronicle reports that Rene Colorado, who is the head of the Tenderloin Merchants and Property Owners Association, is also planning to run.