DeSantis orders Florida official to investigate Facebook for 'alleged election interference'

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisSunday shows preview: CDC signs off on 'mix and match' vaccine boosters Judge sides with Tennessee families in mask mandate fight GOP leaders escalate battle against COVID-19 vaccine mandates MORE (R) has instructed Secretary of State Laurel Lee to investigate Facebook for "alleged election interference."

The investigation follows The Wall Street Journal's explosive report entitled The Facebook Files, which said that, among multiple other accusations, some VIP users were exempt from the social media giant's policies during the 2020 election under a program called "cross check." According to the Journal's report, millions of those users — mostly celebrities, journalists and politicians — were not subject to Facebook's usual standards of behavior.

"It’s no secret that Big Tech censors have long enforced their own rules inconsistently," DeSantis said in a press release. "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."

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DeSantis's release said that, if the Journal's reporting proves to be accurate, Facebook created "a privileged class of speakers and has empowered them to manipulate our elections with impunity."

"We do not know where exactly this alleged electioneering occurred, and the scope is known only to Facebook," DeSantis's press secretary Christina Pushaw said in an email to The Hill. "That’s why Governor DeSantis ordered this investigation. If Facebook’s double standards amounted to interference in state and local races in Florida, then Floridians deserve to know the extent of it."

In his letter to Lee, DeSantis requested an investigation into this "previously undisclosed double standard" to determine if any of Florida's election laws were broken by the social media giant. 

"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," DeSantis, who has long accused tech giants of anti-conservative bias, added in his statement.

In a statement to The Hill, Facebook spokesperson Drew Pusateri defended the "cross check" program, while saying that the company has made efforts to improve the system.

"The cross check system was designed for an important reason: to create an additional step so we can accurately enforce policies on content that could require more understanding," Pusateri said. "This could include activists raising awareness of instances of violence or journalists reporting from conflict zones. Facebook itself identified the issues with cross check and has been working to address them. We’ve made investments, built a dedicated team, and have been redesigning cross check to improve how the system operates.”