On Wednesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis continued his series of dire warnings about a new federal initiative to clamp down on disinformation, contending that social media companies “subcontracting” for this “Ministry of Truth” would not be tolerated in Florida.
“They’ll say they’re private companies, and they are, but if … the government is subcontracting out these private entities, they have to follow the First Amendment too at that point,” DeSantis said in Trenton. “You can’t evade the First Amendment at that point.”
In stops in Mayo and Trenton, the Governor revisited what has become an increasingly familiar case against the Department of Homeland Security’s Disinformation Governance Board.
The “disinformation bureau,” DeSantis said in Trenton, would “basically police speech in this country.”
“What they want to do is create preferred narratives. And then if you dissent from those narratives, they want to label that as ‘disinformation.’ They want to marginalize, and hopefully from their perspective, they’d want to deplatform or censor people who are not toeing the line,” DeSantis warned.
He then explained his theory about how social media companies may act as an enforcement arm of the government.
“Here’s what I think they are doing with this: They’re not going to be able to necessarily directly censor you from the government, because they know that would be unconstitutional,” DeSantis said.
“And then therefore they’re going to give that to the social media companies and say, ‘You guys have a responsibility to police disinformation on your platforms.’ And they’re going to hope the social media companies do their dirty work to try to stifle dissent,” DeSantis said.
The state is formally on the record against the DHS disinformation panel, threatening a lawsuit if the Board stays in place.
“What they said was disinformation almost always turned out to be true,” DeSantis added, discussing his COVID-19 back and forth with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, his push to open schools, and other familiar talking points in support.
Attorney General Ashley Moody has formalized the state’s pique, signing onto a letter with a number of GOP Attorneys General demanding the Board’s termination, or else “judicial remedies” will be pursued.