Ron DeSantis orders investigation into Facebook’s secret leniency program
Ron DeSantis (Screen Grab)
Gov. Ron DeSantis has ordered an investigation into Facebook following reporting that the company has allowed selected high-profile individuals to violate its rules against spreading medical misinformation, harassment, incitements to violence, and other abusive posts.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Sept. 13 that one of the principal beneficiaries of Facebook's practice was Donald Trump, DeSantis' own political mentor.

Nevertheless, the governor pointed in a letter sent Monday to Secretary of State Laurel Lee to the Journal's reporting that “this previously undisclosed double standard 'at times effectlvely grant[ed] incumbents in elections an advantage over challengers,'" especially in local races.

“The thought of technology companies clandestinely manipulating elections is an affront to the basic principles of our republic. Floridians deserve to have faith that their elections are fair and free from intrusion by Big Tech monopolies like Facebook," DeSantis wrote.

Lee is Florida's chief elections officer.

The Journal report cited internal Facebook documents and said executives concealed the program from the public and its own oversight board. The program is known as “cross check" or “XCheck," the Journal reported.

Legislation passed this year at DeSantis' urging targets social media platforms that discriminate on the basis of viewpoint, subjecting them to heavy fines and possible bars against doing business with the state, especially when political candidates are affected.

DeSantis and other Republicans accused platforms including Facebook and Twitter of bias against conservatives, especially after those and other platforms suspended Trump's accounts for spreading misinformation about the 2020 presidential election.

The Journal reported that Facebook “whitelisted" “pretty much anyone regularly in the media or who has a substantial online following, including film stars, cable talk-show hosts, academics, and online personalities with large followings."

Users so designated — including members of Trump's family and Congress — qualified for specialized reviews of targeted posts that Facebook sometimes never actually conducted, the newspaper said, meaning the suspect information remained open to public view.

“Mr. Trump's account was covered by XCheck before his two-year suspension from Facebook in June," the Journal reported.

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