Rebekah Jones‘ Twitter suspension saga took a bizarre turn late Monday night after the embattled data designer announced that she’s running for Congressman Matt Gaetz‘s seat.
Jones, a former Florida Department of Health (DOH) employee who was fired for repeatedly violating the agency’s policy about communicating with the media, made the out-of-left-field announcement on social media mere hours after she was suspended from Twitter for violating rules against “platform manipulation and spam.” Jones also placed the crosshairs on Governor Ron DeSantis, calling the Republican governor a “sociopathic liar.”
“Didn’t want to announce it this way, but since DeSantis is now taking credit for getting me suspended for sharing an article that proves he’s a sociopathic liar it looks like I have to say it this way. I’m running for Matt Geatz’ seat next year,” Jones said, misspelling the Republican’s name in a post on her Instagram page.
So here’s a new twist in tonight’s Rebekah Jones suspension saga— she says she’s running for Rep. @mattgaetz seat. Statement below. When asked how seriously she is taking this— her response: “Taking a human sex trafficker out of Congress? Very interested.” pic.twitter.com/gHVXQue1nv
— Forrest Saunders (@FBSaunders) June 8, 2021
The news of her campaign comes after a whirlwind of a day that saw Jones attempt to save face after Twitter placed her page on lockdown. Following her suspension, Jones told reporters that her account was shut down because of her “overzealous” sharing of a Miami Herald article. However, the Governor’s press secretary Christina Pushaw, pushed back on that narrative, alleging that Jones was not suspended for anything related to the article, adding that her account was banned for “platform manipulation.”
“This decision was long overdue. Rebekah Jones is the Typhoid Mary of COVID-19 disinformation and has harmed many hardworking DOH employees with her defamatory conspiracy theories,” Pushaw said in a statement. “I hope someone will ask Ms. Jones why she thinks she got suspended — will she allege that Governor DeSantis is somehow behind Twitter’s decision? That would be deeply ironic if she tried to spin the falsehood into her conspiracy theory, given the Governor’s stance on Big Tech.”
An analysis of Jones’ Twitter account profile published by Forbes Magazine late Monday alleged that Jones’ account experienced “a concentrated surge in new follower activity for @georebekah” that added 21,000 new followers in a short period of time. Forbes also alleged that the followers were likely purchased from a network of malicious apps in direct violation of Twitter’s rules.
DeSantis’ office expanded on her terms of service breach, with communications director Taryn Fenske adding that Jones was guilty of “buying followers” and setting up “multiple redundant accounts.”
“From my understanding, Twitter stated that Jones was suspended for “platform manipulation,” a clear violation of the platform’s terms of service, which prohibit inauthentic activity like buying followers and creating multiple redundant accounts. This does not look like an example of censorship, even though Rebekah Jones is a super-spreader of COVID-19 disinformation and has harmed many hardworking DOH employees with defamatory conspiracy theories that she promoted on Twitter,” Fenske told The Capitolist.
“Florida’s new law against partisan Big Tech censorship requires that social media companies clarify and enforce their terms of service fairly for all users, without regard to ideological or political leanings. In banning Jones for a cut-and-dry TOS breach, platform manipulation, perhaps Twitter is finally enforcing the same rules for both sides of the aisle.
“It wouldn’t be surprising if Jones alleges Governor DeSantis is somehow behind Twitter’s decision. That would be deeply ironic if she tried to spin that falsehood into her conspiracy theory, given the Governor’s stance on Big Tech.”
While the ban gave many who have been attacked by Jones reason to rejoice, some noted the irony in what is perceived to be a Big Tech pat on the back from DeSantis, despite him championing an anti-censorship measure during the 2021 Legislative Session.
Pushaw, however, maintains that the suspension is due to Jones violating Twitter’s rules, adding that the Big Tech censorship bill signed into law by DeSantis wouldn’t apply in Jones’ situation. That law doesn’t go into effect until July 1.
“Governor DeSantis supports every Floridian’s right to free speech. Even conspiracy grifters like Rebekah Jones have First Amendment rights, and their rights must be protected,” Pushaw told The Capitolist. “However, the “censoring speech” argument doesn’t apply to this case, because Jones wasn’t suspended for posting left-wing conspiracy theories, COVID disinformation, or targeted harassment and defamation — although she did all that. Jones was suspended for spamming and platform manipulation, which includes clear cut TOS violations like buying followers and using multiple accounts.”
Jones’ account on Twitter remains suspended, with the platform denying her appeal to unlock her page, according to journalist Grant Stern. Jones attempted to create another Twitter handle on Monday, but that account was also suspended.
Rebekah Jones shared this screen shot with me.
Twitter says her account will remain suspended. pic.twitter.com/lBRancCNDz
— Grant Stern is fully vaccinated (@grantstern) June 8, 2021
In her announcement, Jones also stated that her candidacy would allow her to fine Twitter starting July 1 until her account was restored.
“This also means, under DeSantis’ recent signed social media law, I get to fine Twitter $250k per day until my account is restored starting July 1!”
The nod, however, misinterprets the law signed by DeSantis. Jones currently does not currently reside in Florida. She moved to Chevy Chase, Maryland in December, according to media reports.
If Jones decides to throw her hat in the arena, she could face Gaetz, a popular right-wing official who represents Florida’s 1st Congressional District and is currently embroiled in a federal sex trafficking investigation. Investigators are seeking to determine if the outspoken Republican had sex with a 17-year-old. He has not been charged with any crimes and has openly denied wrongdoing.
Prior to her announcement, Jones went on record last month, telling the Orlando Sentinel in an interview that she wouldn’t seek a congressional bid in 2022, adding “she did not feel safe enough to run in Florida.”