After Joseph Maldonado-Passage, known professionally as Joe Exotic and nicknamed The Tiger King, commented on actress Hilary Duff’s Thanksgiving Day post on Instagram with three heart emojis, the imprisoned reality TV star pleaded with Duff’s husband Matthew Koma to “get me out of here.”
That led to an even longer conversation between the two wherein Koma offered to visit Maldonado-Passage, all the while the 60-year-old is incarcerated at The Federal Medical Center Fort Worth, a federal prison for individuals with medical issues.
The former Oklahoma zookeeper famous for popular 2020 Netflix docuseries “Tiger King” was sentenced to 21 years in prison after being found guilty of a murder-for-hire plot against Carole Baskin, animal rights activist and CEO of Big Cat Rescue. In 2021, Maldonado-Passage announced that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Maldonado-Passage was transferred in 2021 from FMC Fort Worth to FMC Butner in North Carolina for cancer treatment but has since been moved back to Fort Worth. This year, Exotic announced that would be running in the 2024 presidential election as a Democrat.
Aside from posting on Instagram, his social media accounts on TikTok and X are also regularly active, but how exactly is he doing that?
Do people in federal prisons have social media access?
Emery Nelson, a spokesperson for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, told the Star-Telegram that incarcerated individuals do not have access to the internet, nor do they have access to social media.
“Incarcerated individuals do not have access to computers in the same way or with the same capabilities as someone in the public would,” Nelson said. “Individuals may access Trust Fund Limited Inmate Computer System (TRULINCS) computer terminals to conduct various activities (e.g., electronic messaging, law library research, review discovery material, modify telephone numbers on their phone lists, send funds, and view unit management messages).”
Many incarcerated individuals who have ongoing legal cases and electronic discovery material may be provided access to specialized or government-issued laptops that allow them to view legal material and digital discovery that is sent directly to them from defense counsel or the government, he added. These laptops are in addition to the regular discovery computers. All discovery computers and laptops are set to only allow the viewing of approved discovery material and do not have the ability to connect to the internet or transmit/receive information wirelessly.
How is Joe Exotic posting on social media from a Fort Worth prison facility?
With that, the mystery remains as to how exactly Maldonado-Passage is using social media to weigh in on controversies, present his hot takes and not so hot takes, promote his presidential campaign or assert that he should be freed from prison.
Never knew that Joe Exotic was the voice of reason we all needed when it comes to this ordeal pic.twitter.com/v4Hxjmw23r
— Filet-O-Fish Social Club Founder (@casteeezy) June 23, 2023
Months ago, MovieMaker Magazine theorized that Joe Exotic has either snuck in a phone or someone is posting under his name. However, in a letter he addressed to MovieMaker to debunk those claims, he writes in part: “I can assure you that what is posted on my social media comes from me and me only. My team gets in the mail 6-10 posts a day from me in the mail. They control the comments and likes but the rest is all me, sir!”