EXCLUSIVE: Republican presidential candidate and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis rubbed salt in the wound Wednesday by trolling his opponent, former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, over her scrutinized vow to require all social media users to be verified.
DeSantis’ campaign announced new merchandise mocking Haley’s comments, including a t-shirt with the phrase, “Always Watching,” and a quote from Haley that said “every person on social media must be verified by their name.”
Another item is a dystopian themed “Official Internet Identification Card” modeled after something an authoritarian science-fiction regime might require.
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Haley’s comments came during an appearance Tuesday on Fox News when she said one of the first things she would do if elected president is to force social media companies to reveal their algorithms, in addition to the required on verification.
“First of all, it’s a national security threat. When you do that, all of a sudden people have to stand up for what they’re saying. And it takes out the Russian bots, the Iranian bots and the Chinese bot. And then you’ll get some civility when people know their name is next to what they’re saying, and they know their pastor and their family members will see it,” he said.
DeSantis quickly tore into Haley for the proposal, joining a wave of critics blasting it as “unconstitutional.”
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“You know who the anonymous writers of the day were? Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison when they wrote the Federalist Papers. They weren’t ‘threats to national security,’ and neither were many conservative Americans across the country who are exercising their Constitutional right to express their opinions without fear of being harassed or terminated by the school they attend or the company they work for,” DeSantis wrote.
He called it “dangerous,” and said it was “dead on arrival” in a DeSantis administration.
Haley walked back those comments on Wednesday, telling CNBC’s “Squawk Box” that while she didn’t think the “anonymous American” was free speech, she did not support anonymous free speech for Russian actors. , Iran and China.
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“I know, what is anyone’s intelligence [knows]… Russia, Iran and China, North Korea, know that the cheapest way to wage war is to spread false information. Look what happened to Israel. Want to know where all this pro-Hamas information is coming from? It comes from foreign actors who are sowing chaos and division,” she said.
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“I want freedom of speech for Americans. I don’t want freedom of speech for Russia and Hamas, and that’s what’s happening right now. So the way you fix that is we need our social media companies to verify everybody,” she said.
Hanna Panreck of Fox News contributed to this report.
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