Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis complained just months ago that Twitter and other social media sites were ‘enforcers of preferred narratives.’
Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday hailed Twitter’s decision to suspend the account of Rebekah Jones, a former employee of the Florida Department of Health who criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But over the past few months, DeSantis has frequently attacked Twitter and other tech companies for suspending or banning conservatives who violated the company’s terms of service.
“The decision was long overdue,” DeSantis’ office said in a statement to the press about Jones’ suspension, going on to describe her as “the Typhoid Mary of COVID-19 disinformation,” who “has harmed many hardworking DOH [Department of Health] employees with her defamatory conspiracy theories.”
Jones was suspended for what Twitter said was “platform manipulation and spam.” Jones told the Miami Herald that the suspension came after she was “overzealous” in sharing an article about her conflict with DeSantis.
Jones has been described by the Herald as “one of DeSantis’ biggest critics.” Jones was fired from her position in the Florida Department of Health in May of 2020. The department said she was removed from her position for “insubordination,” while Jones has alleged she was fired for refusing to “manually change data to drum up support for the plan to reopen.” Jones has traded barbs repeatedly with DeSantis in the months since then. She officially earned whistleblower status from the state this month.
In contrast to DeSantis’ statement about Jones’ suspension, he complained vociferously when Donald Trump was banned from Twitter two days after the riot at the U.S. Capitol, after the company said Trump’s account risked “further incitement of violence.”
On May 24, DeSantis signed a state law to punish tech companies for banning politicians. In a statement accompanying the law’s passage, DeSantis said, “If Big Tech censors enforce rules inconsistently, to discriminate in favor of the dominant Silicon Valley ideology, they will now be held accountable.”
The statement from DeSantis’ office said that under S.B. 7072, “all Floridians treated unfairly by Big Tech platforms will have the right to sue companies that violate this law.”
In a February speech, DeSantis complained that social media companies “have changed from neutral platforms that provided Americans with the freedom to speak to enforcers of preferred narratives.”
Referring to the decision from Twitter to ban Trump while allowing “so much garbage and filth,” DeSantis said, “No group of people should exercise such power, especially not tech billionaires in Northern California.”
But when discussing Twitter’s action against Jones, DeSantis made no mention of his concerns about Twitter’s overuse of its powers.