Elon Musk, the CEO of Twitter/X, has filed a lawsuit against the State of California, alleging a violation of his company’s free speech rights.
Musk’s lawsuit contends that California officials have infringed upon X Corp’s First Amendment rights by mandating open censorship policies.
Since Musk acquired Twitter and rebranded it as X, he has been committed to prioritizing free speech on the social media platform. Musk has identified himself as a staunch advocate of free speech and stated that he purchased Twitter to maintain it as a global hub for open discourse.
However, in September 2022, California passed AB 587, which requires all social media companies to publicly disclose their content moderation policies, essentially referring to censorship.
The state demands transparency regarding how Big Tech firms will handle content considered by Democrats as “disinformation,” harassment, “hate speech,” and extremism.
This law is applicable only to companies with an annual gross revenue exceeding $100 million. Under AB 587, these companies can be fined up to $15,000 per day for each violation.
In its lawsuit, X Corp argues that the law infringes upon the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and also violates free speech rights protected by the California state constitution.
The federal lawsuit claims that the true intention behind the law is to compel social media companies to eliminate speech that the Democratic-led state government finds objectionable, essentially making it a form of compelled speech.
“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,” said Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom after signing the bill.
AB 587 additionally mandates social media companies to provide a biannual report describing how their terms of service define extremism, disinformation, and harassment. This law is set to take effect in January, with reports due to the attorney general’s office by January 1, 2024.
California Attorney General Rob Bonta has stated that he will respond to the lawsuit in federal court. In April, the law faced another legal challenge from the satire site The Babylon Bee and podcaster Tim Pool.