Ron DeSantis condemns Facebook whitelisting as ‘affront’ to republic, demands probe
Kathy Castor calls for Mark Zuckerberg to offer more protections for minors on Instagram. Image via AP.

Findings published by the Wall Street Journal suggest the tech giants might have violated Florida election law, the Governor says.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has asked Florida’s top elections official to investigate Facebook for election interference.

The Republican Governor’s directive on Monday followed a Wall Street Journal report this month that the Silicon Valley behemoth exempts some high-profile users, including politicians and journalists, from some or all of its content rules. DeSantis ordered Secretary of State Laurel Lee and the Department of State’s Division of Elections to investigate what the Governor’s Office called “alleged failures to comply with Florida’s election laws.”

“It’s no secret that Big Tech censors have long enforced their own rules inconsistently,” DeSantis said in a statement. “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.”

Whitelisting certain public profiles creates two classes of speakers, empowering the privileged class to “manipulate our elections with impunity,” according to the Governor’s Office.

Facebook’s “XCheck” shields millions of users, including some who spread posts the company had otherwise flagged as false disinformation, from its normal enforcement process, according to the Journal. A 2019 internal review found widespread favoritism in the whitelisting practices, which the review called “not publicly defensible.”

The XCheck roster includes most government officials, but not all political candidates, creating an advantage for incumbents. Some Facebook employees worried that discrepancy, which is most prevalent at the state and local level, could draw accusations of favoritism.

“The thought of Facebook clandestinely manipulating elections is an affront to the basic principles of our republic,” DeSantis said. “We the people have the right to choose our representatives, whether or not Silicon Valley approves.”

The tech industry has been one of the Governor’s major targets since the 2020 election, particularly after former President Donald Trump‘s ban from Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. DeSantis endorsed and signed a measure to prevent social media companies from deplatforming users and limiting their ability to silence candidates for office. The Governor also signed election law changes this year that included a ban on funding election administration with private funds, what he called “Zuckerbucks.”

Both measures face federal court challenges.

DeSantis faces reelection in 2022. And he is already considered a possible front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

His political committee highlighted the announcement on Twitter minutes after it went public.

DeSantis has claimed social media companies disproportionately punish conservatives with flags, suspensions and shadow bans, which tech officials dispute.

Additionally, Facebook’s XCheck at least once protected a Trump post that otherwise would have automatically been removed if another user flagged it. However that post, which read “When the looting starts, the shooting starts,” stayed up after Zuckerberg personally made the call to leave it.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


  • Tom

    September 27, 2021 at 4:08 pm

    As they should be.
    One sided and partisan.
    Totally corrupt with hard core bias.
    Abusing authority and law.

  • rass

    September 28, 2021 at 8:12 am

    Still sore about yo bitch orange head getting his facebook turned off, eh Ron? Oh, it’s all so, so unfair to Republicans, poor victims of a big, bad boogieman. Big Tech, oh my! If you really cared about protecting democracy, you Ron, would be condemning Donald Trump’s shameless quest to destroy our Nation with his constant lies. You only care about your own power, Ronwannabe President. Why don’t you spend your time trying to help ordinary Floridians for a change? Pathetic power monger!

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