Elon Musk, X sues California over anti-free speech content moderation laws

The "true intent" of the legislation "is to pressure social media platforms to 'eliminate' certain constitutionally protected content viewed by the State as problematic."

Katie Daviscourt Seattle WA
Elon Musk filed a lawsuit against the state of California on Friday over its recent legislation that requires social media companies to disclose details of their content moderation policies to the state, according to Forbes.

The Musk-owned X Corporation, formerly known as Twitter, claimed in the suit that Assembly Bill 587 violates the company's First Amendment rights because it pressures "companies such as X Corp. to remove, demonetize, or deprioritize constitutionally-protected speech that the State deems undesirable or harmful" which "interferes with the constitutionally-protected editorial judgments" of the company.

The suit alleges that the law "places an unjustified and undue burden" on social media companies.

Assembly Bill 587, signed into law last September, is intended to combat so-called hate speech, extremism, and online misinformation. The law mandates that websites and online services that gather personally identifiable information from residents of California make their privacy policies readily accessible to the public, according to Forbes.

The lawsuit argues that the "true intent" of the legislation "is to pressure social media platforms to 'eliminate' certain constitutionally-protected content viewed by the State as problematic."

Furthermore, the suit quoted a California Assembly report that revealed the intentions behind the bill citing, "If social media companies are forced to disclose what they do in this regard [i.e., how they moderate online content], it may pressure them to become better corporate citizens by doing more to eliminate hate speech and disinformation," the outlet reports. 

Starting no later than January 1, 2024, social media companies will be required to submit specified reports to California's Attorney General. If social media companies fail to submit reports they will be held liable in court and will be subjected to civil penalties, according to the bill.

Elon Musk, who also owns Tesla and Space X, purchased the social media platform for $44 billion in April of 2022 with the self-stated goal of ensuring that freedom of speech is protected. 
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