Musk’s X loses bid to block California content moderation law

Social media giant X, formerly Twitter, lost its bid to block a California content moderation law on Friday, with a federal judge dismissing the company’s challenge.

The company claimed the California law violated its free speech rights by requiring it to publicly post its policies and report data on hate speech, disinformation, harassment and extremism online. 

District Judge William Shubb ruled the law’s reporting requirements should be considered corporate speech, which can be more closely regulated by the government.

“The mere fact that the reports may be ‘tied in some way to a controversial issue’ does not make the reports themselves controversial,” Shubb wrote. “While the reporting requirement does appear to place a substantial compliance burden on social media companies, it does not appear that the requirement is unjustified or unduly burdensome within the context of First Amendment law.”

The moderation law came under fire from tech leaders when it was first proposed last year. Florida and Texas have pursued similar reporting requirements for tech companies.

“California will not stand by as social media is weaponized to spread hate and disinformation that threaten our communities and foundational values as a country,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said when the measure was unveiled last year. 

“Californians deserve to know how these platforms are impacting our public discourse, and this action brings much-needed transparency and accountability to the policies that shape the social media content we consume every day,” he added.

X owner Elon Musk has severely cut back content moderation on the social media platform since he purchased it last year. The lack of moderation has caused advertisers to flee the site and launched legal inquiries into company practices. 

The European Union launched a probe into X this month to investigate whether the company broke its content moderation laws.

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