Elon Musk’s X Corp. has initiated legal action against the state of California in response to AB 587, a state bill mandating social media platforms to provide semiannual reports to the state attorney general detailing their efforts in moderating specific categories of speech. The lawsuit contends that the bill violates both federal and state free speech laws, as it forces companies like X Corp. to engage in speech against their will, particularly when it comes to defining contentious topics like hate speech or racism.
X Corp.’s complaint underscores the complexity of reliably defining categories such as hate speech, misinformation, and political interference. It further points out that this task is often influenced by political bias, given the absence of a widely accepted consensus within the public domain on these terms. X Corp. argues that by establishing these definitions, it is effectively compelled to adopt a stance on these issues.
The suit alleges that AB 587 is designed to pressure social media companies into removing content that the state deems constitutionally protected but views as “problematic.” Governor Gavin Newsom’s office promoted the bill as a “nation-leading social media transparency” measure when it was enacted into law in September of the previous year. Similar laws governing social media moderation have also been enacted in Texas and Florida, with their legality awaiting review by the Supreme Court.
Addressing the challenge of social media moderation remains an ongoing endeavor. X Corp. employs various tools, including automated systems and community reporting, for the purpose of moderation and fact-checking. Recently, the company introduced its Community Notes feature for videos, allowing designated “Top Writers” to provide context for potentially misleading content, although this may introduce its own set of challenges related to misinformation. Reddit has faced scrutiny for replacing longtime moderators with potentially less experienced ones, while Bluesky’s moderation strategy acknowledges the potential for suppressing fact-checking on the platform.
Note: The names “X Corp.” and “AB 587” have been used as placeholders, as the original text did not specify the actual names involved. Please replace them with accurate information.