FL Gov Ron DeSantis Going To LOCK HER UP Mark Zuckerberg For ... Well, What Have You Got?
We are about three news cycles away from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis threatening to beat up Mark Zuckerberg behind the gym after fourth period. And even that would probably be more credible than the latest round of bullshit spewing from the governor's mansion in the vague direction of Palo Alto.
The latest fucktussle was sparked by the Wall Street Journal's recent series on problems at Facebook. The first article revealed that the social media platform had an internal "whitelist" of celebrities and politicians who were exempt from the rules banning harassment, incitement, and even nudity. Normal people might think, "Yeah, no shit, you guys left that maniac on there, and we wound up with an attempted coup." But Ron DeSantis is not normal people.
So yesterday Gov. Florida Man directed Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee to "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."
Note that he doesn't specify which laws might have been violated. Because no such law exists. And even if Florida's preposterous social media law purporting to make it illegal to deplatform political candidates hadn't been immediately blocked in court, the statute wasn't scheduled to go into effect until July 2021 — well after the 2020 election when these supposed "violations of Florida's election laws took place."
DeSantis's theory, if his rancid babbling can be dignified with that term, rests on internal documents admitting that whitelisting politicians amounted to an advantage for incumbents. DeSantis himself passed a law which would have mandated a similar whitelist for all political candidates, forcing Facebook and every other website to allow politicians to violate the sites' rules with impunity. (Well, not Disney, because Ol' Ron knows who butters his moldy bread, so he made sure there was an amusement park exception.) But logical consistency has never been DeSantis's forte.
"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," he babbled. "Even more disturbing, these elite users on Facebook's 'whitelist' were allegedly selected by the tech giant behind closed doors."
All of which sounds quite ominous, but not illegal. Because Facebook is a private company, and thanks to the First Amendment, it can put whatever it bloody likes on its own website. As Ron DeSantis, a graduate of Harvard Law School, knows perfectly well. And if he forgot the first semester of ConLaw, US District Judge Robert Hinkle just reminded him in June when he barred enforcement of that dumbass social media law.
"[L]eveling the playing field—promoting speech on one side of an issue or restricting speech on the other—is not a legitimate state interest," he wrote, blocking the law because forcing platforms to carry specific content is a "violation of their editorial judgment and the First Amendment."
Which is perhaps why DeSantis directed his performative outrage to the secretary of state, rather than the Florida Department of Law Enforcement which investigates actual crimes. As Politico's Gary Fineout points out, election officials don't usually investigate or prosecute election crimes, and are mainly concerned with the timely filing of campaign finance reports.
"The Division of Elections does forward information to the state elections commission for inquiry — but that's usually if someone filed their campaign finance reports late," he writes. "Any Florida reporter can recite the time they brought up some potential violation of law only to be told the Division only has a 'ministerial' role and does not investigate."
Nonetheless, DeSantis directed the Department to "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."
Violations of what? Well, Ron's not saying. But he does know that "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."
Look out, Zuck, Florida Gov 'bout to do some LOCK HER UPS before that 2024 campaign gets underway.
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.