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Florida News

DeSantis Targets Facebook Over ‘Whitelisting’

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Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday directed Secretary of State Laurel Lee to conduct an investigation into alleged election interference by Facebook after a Wall Street Journal report about the social-media company.

The Journal reported Sept. 13 that Facebook created special content-moderation rules for high-profile people — a practice known as “whitelisting.”

In a letter Monday to Lee, DeSantis cited the Journal report and said Facebook could have used the practice to “put its thumb on the scale” in political races. He directed Lee to investigate to “determine whether any violations of Florida’s election laws took place.”

The letter was the latest move in months of criticism by DeSantis of Facebook and other social-media companies. DeSantis pushed a law through the Legislature this spring that, in part, sought to prevent large social-media platforms from banning political candidates from their sites and required companies to publish — and apply consistently — standards about issues such as banning users or blocking their content.

DeSantis, a close ally of former President Donald Trump, pushed the social-media crackdown after Twitter and Facebook blocked Trump from their platforms after his supporters rampaged at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

Online-industry groups challenged the constitutionality of the law, and a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction against it June 30. The state has taken the case to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.