Elon Musk’s X Corp has filed a lawsuit against California over a state law that establishes new transparency rules for social media companies. This law requires these platforms to publicly disclose their policies for moderating disinformation, harassment, hate speech, and extremism.
X Corp, formerly known as Twitter, argues that Assembly Bill 587 infringes upon its free speech rights under the US Constitution’s First Amendment and California’s state constitution.
In its complaint filed in federal court in Sacramento, X Corp claims that the law’s “true intent” is to pressure social media companies into removing content deemed objectionable by the state. This, according to X, amounts to compelling companies to adopt California’s stance on politically charged issues, constituting a form of compelled speech.
After Elon Musk acquired Twitter for $44 billion in October, he made changes such as reducing the staff responsible for content moderation and reinstating accounts that had banned by previous management. This move drew attention as it aligned with Musk’s stance as a “free speech absolutist.”
Organizations like the Anti-Defamation League and the Center for Countering Digital Hate have reported an increase in hate speech on X targeting various groups since Musk took over.
Elon Musk, known as the world’s richest person, is also the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX.
The California Attorney General’s office, responsible for enforcing state laws, has stated that it will respond to the complaint in court.
Assembly Bill 587 mandates that social media companies with annual revenue of at least $100 million provide semiannual reports outlining their content moderation practices and data on objectionable posts and their handling. The law also requires companies to furnish copies of their terms of service, with potential civil fines of up to $15,000 per violation per day for non-compliance.
Governor Gavin Newsom signed the law in September to prevent social media from “weaponized” for spreading hate and disinformation.
Musk has recently blamed organizations like the ADL for a 60% decline in US advertising revenue on X and has made changes to content visibility on the platform.
The case has titled “X Corp v Bonta” and has filed in the US District Court, Eastern District of California, under No. 23-at-00903.