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Florida Governor Seeks Probe of Facebook’s ‘Alleged Election Interference’

Bloomberg logo Bloomberg 9/27/2021 Jonathan Levin
Wolf Image © Photographer: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg Wolf Image

(Bloomberg) -- Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said he has directed Secretary of State Laurel Lee to investigate Facebook Inc. for “alleged election interference.”

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In a press release Monday, DeSantis’s office said the review comes after a Wall Street Journal story on the company.

The Wall Street Journal’s review of Facebook documents found that the company effectively created a VIP list of users who are shielded from its normal policy enforcement program. The newspaper found that the list sometimes gave incumbents an advantage over challengers. According to the text of a letter DeSantis sent Monday to Secretary Lee, that would amount to Facebook putting its “thumb on the scale of numerous state and local races.”

“If this new report is true, Facebook has violated Florida law,” DeSantis said in an emailed statement. “Floridians deserve to know how much this corporate titan has influenced our elections.”

Facebook spokesman Drew Pusateri said the company policy in question, known as cross check, was designed to be an extra step in content moderation to better understand complex issues.

“Facebook itself identified the issues with cross check and has been working to address them,” Pusateri said. “We’ve made investments, built a dedicated team, and have been redesigning cross check to improve how the system operates.”

DeSantis has frequently taken aim at what he calls “Big Tech,” signing a bill earlier this year that sought to stop social media sites from banning political candidates -- a measure that came into being after former President Donald Trump was kicked off of Twitter. A federal judge temporarily blocked the Florida law in June.

(Updates with Facebook response in fifth paragraph.)

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