Elon Musk’s X Corp filed a lawsuit against the state of California on Friday in response to a state law mandating social media companies to post their policies for handling hate speech, harassment, disinformation, and extremism.
X, a social media company formerly known as Twitter, claimed that Assembly Bill 587 violates its First Amendment and California state constitution rights to free speech.
The “true intent” of the statute, according to X in a lawsuit filed in federal court in Sacramento, California, was to put pressure on social media corporations to remove content the government found undesirable.
By doing this, California compels businesses to share its political stances on contentious matters, which is “a form of compelled speech in and of itself,” according to X.
Musk, a self-described free speech absolutist who purchased Twitter for $44 billion last October, fired several of the staff members in charge of policing and monitoring content as well as unbanned accounts.
Since Musk took control, there has been a surge in the amount of hate speech on X that targets Jews, Black people, homosexual men, and trans people, according to the Anti-Defamation League and the Center for Countering Digital Hate.
The richest man in the world, Musk, also oversees the space exploration firm SpaceX and the electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla.
Rob Bonta, the attorney general of California, has stated that his office will answer the complaint in court.
According to AB 587, social media businesses that generate at least $100 million in annual gross revenue must publish semi-annual reports outlining their content moderation procedures and providing information on the quantity of offensive posts and the methods used to address them.
Additionally, companies must give copies of their terms of service per the legislation. Civil penalties of up to $15,000 per violation per day are possible for noncompliance.
The bill was passed in September by Democratic Governor of California Gavin Newsom, who pledged that his administration would prevent social media from being “weaponized” to propagate hate and misinformation.
Musk fired thousands of workers after purchasing Twitter, and on Monday he pointed the finger upon the ADL and others for a 60% drop in U.S. advertising income.
A.J. Brown, who left his position as X’s head of brand safety and ad quality in June, claimed in a recent interview that Musk’s policy changes, which reduced the exposure of offensive posts on X rather than eliminating them, made it challenging to persuade advertisers that the platform was secure.
The case is X Corp v. Bonta, No. 23-at-00903 in the Eastern District of California of the United States District Court.