Ron DeSantis, Republican Florida Governor, has instructed his Secretary of State Laurel M. Lee, to investigate Facebook’s alleged election interference. He accused the tech giant of influencing state and local elections. Lee called the move “an affront to the basic principles of our republic.”
“I hereby direct that your office immediately investigate this alleged election interference caused by Facebook through its whitelisting program – and any other previously undisclosed program within Facebook – in order to determine whether any violations of Florida’s election laws took place,” DeSantis said in a letter to Lee. “Your office should use all legal means to uncover any such violations, including but not limited to, issuing subpoenas, conducting witness interviews, reviewing all available information and consulting with law enforcement.”
DeSantis’ comments were in response to The Wall Street Journal’s report alleging that Facebook gives preferential treatment to select users.
Here is an excerpt from the report:
While the program included most government officials, it didn’t include all candidates for public office, at times effectively granting incumbents in elections an advantage over challengers. The discrepancy was most prevalent in state and local races, the documents show, and employees worried Facebook could be subject to accusations of favoritism.
DeSantis stated in his statement that – “It’s no secret that Big Tech censors have long enforced their own rules inconsistently, 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. The thought of Facebook clandestinely manipulating elections is an affront to the basic principles of our republic. We the people have the right to choose our representatives, whether or not Silicon Valley approves.”
Below is the press release by DeSantis:
Internal documents obtained by the Wall Street Journal reveal the egregious double standard that Facebook applies to its users. While most people are subject to arbitrary censorship at the whims of so-called fact-checkers, Facebook grants select users the freedom to disregard the platform’s own community standards without the threat of enforcement action.
If the Wall Street Journal report is accurate, Facebook has created a privileged class of speakers and has empowered them to manipulate our elections with impunity. Even more disturbing, these elite users on Facebook’s “whitelist” were allegedly selected by the tech giant behind closed doors. The selection process, scope, and real-world influence of the whitelist is concealed from the public and known only to Facebook. If true, this process may have provided a benefit to incumbent elected politicians over their challengers in state and local elections.
Floridians deserve to have faith that their elections are free from Big Tech interference, and corporations like Facebook deserve to be held accountable for actions that erode the legitimacy of our institutions.
I am authorizing @FLSecofState and the Florida Department of State to open an investigation into Facebook’s alleged election interference through its whitelisting program.— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) September 27, 2021
Floridians deserve to know how much Big Tech has influenced our elections. pic.twitter.com/rmGmZ6BK6T