Florida Governor DeSantis on Monday directs the Secretary of State to investigate Facebook for alleged violations of election laws.
It follows reporting that Facebook has allowed selected high-profile individuals to violate its rules against spreading medical misinformation, harassment, incitements to violence, and other abusive posts.
DeSantis asked Secretary of State Laurel Lee to investigate whether Facebook’s policies violated Florida election law, citing a recent Wall Street Journal report. The article went into detail about how Facebook exempts high-profile users from some or all of its rules.
“If this report is true, Facebook has put its thumb on the scale of numerous state and local races in a disturbing and concealed fashion,” DeSantis wrote to Lee.
According to the newspaper, incumbent politicians were on the “whitelist,” but challengers in state and local elections were not always. This raised concerns that incumbents might be getting preferential treatment. According to a Facebook spokesperson, the issue has been resolved.
“If this new report is true, Facebook has violated Florida law to put its thumb on the scale of numerous state and local races. Floridians deserve to know how much this corporate titan has influenced our elections. That is why I am directing Secretary Lee to use all legal means to uncover violations of Florida’s election laws.”Governor Ron DeSanti
In a letter sent to Secretary of State Laurel M. Lee today, Governor DeSantis has directed Secretary Lee to investigate Facebook’s alleged failures to comply with Florida’s election laws.
“The thought of technology companies clandestinely manipulating elections is an affront to the basic principles of our republic. Floridians deserve to have faith that their elections are fair and free from intrusion by Big Tech monopolies like Facebook,” DeSantis wrote.
The full text of the letter can be found here.
DeSantis has been criticizing the power of large social media companies for months. Earlier this year, he signed legislation authorizing the state to fine large social media platforms for deactivating a statewide politician’s account. The bill, which has been temporarily halted by a federal judge, would also have allowed any Floridian to sue those companies if they believe they have been treated unfairly if their accounts have been suspended. The state is appealing the judge’s decision to halt the legislation.