Gov. Ron DeSantis
Gov. Ron DeSantis

Florida’s showboating governor Ron DeSantis is among reasons why trust in America’s political system is on the rocks.

DeSantis signed legislation into law on May 24 that would fine companies such as Twitter and Facebook if they decide to permanently ban political candidates (e.g., Donald Trump) from their platforms.

He claimed to be protecting Sunshine Staters against those "Silicon Valley elites," who have the power to keep the lies and falsehoods spewed by people like Trump from poisoning their sites.

Since when did a US government entity gain the right to control speech on private websites?

The lame-brained law is a gross violation of the First Amendment rights of social media companies to decide how to run their own businesses.

What’s next for DeSantis?

Will he impose fines on the Miami Herald, Sun-Sentinel, Palm Beach Post, Tallahassee Democrat or Mar-a Lago Bugle if they fail to cover his pet issues or preferred candidates.

How is Ron going to get around Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which grants liability protection for web platforms?

The gross hypocrisy of DeSantis’ move is evident as his law exempts companies from the fines in the event that they own Walt Disney World or Universal Studios Florida, a property of Comcast.

The courts will strike down DeSantis’ power grab but he did curry favor among the MAGA crowd.

And that’s what it really is all about.

“Perception hacking” is an emerging problem in social media, according to Facebook’s “Threat Report: The State of Influence Operations” released May 26.

Mark Zuckerberg’s firm describes perception hacking as “rather than running actual on-platform campaigns or compromising election systems, they are attempting to garner influence by fostering the perception that they are everywhere, playing on people’s fear of widespread deception itself.”

Facebook found that in the waning hours of the 2018 midterm elections, the Russian Internet Research Agency claimed they were running thousands of fake accounts to sway the vote across the US. It was a Big Lie.

The IRA even created a website with an “election countdown clock,” which tracked the progress of the fake accounts.

Facebook conducted an investigation in conjunction with other tech companies and law enforcement authorities and found only a handful of accounts set up by the IRA.

The effort was all about creating the perception of influence.”

The Report also tackled the “weaponization of uncertainty” in which influencer operations elevate conflicting voices and drive division throughout the world around major crises like the COVID-19 pandemic, critical elections, and civic protests.”

The good news, according to Facebook: “Authentic voices typically outweigh inauthentic attempts to manipulate public debate.”

The bad news: authentic voices are harder to find in today’s highly-partisan and polarized America in which any individual willing to speak out against the party line is shunned and branded as a traitor.

Hello, Liz Cheney.

Good luck in your re-election campaign.