Elon Musk’s social media platform has sued the state over a law requiring social media companies to publish their policies for removing offending material such as hate speech, misinformation and harassment.
Elon Musk’s X Corp. on Friday, September 8, sued the state of California over a law requiring social media companies to publicly post their policies regarding hate speech, disinformation, harassment and extremism. The parent company of X, formerly known as Twitter, argued in a federal suit that the law referred to as AB 587 violates its free speech rights.
“The true intent of AB 587 is to pressure social media platforms to eliminate certain constitutionally-protected content viewed by the State as problematic,” the suit contended. “The state is compelling social media companies to take public positions on controversial and politically charged issues.”
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The suit railed against the law, which requires social media companies to publicly post policies regarding hate speech, disinformation, harassment and extremism on their platforms, and report data on their enforcement of the policies.
“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 Governor Gavin Newsom said when he signed the bill into law a year ago.
“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.”
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Musk early this week said he is considering suing the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a leading anti-hate group, arguing that its accusations of anti-Semitism have led X to lose revenue. Musk accused the US-based Jewish organization of making unfounded complaints against him and X that have scared away advertisers.
“Advertisers avoid controversy, so all that is needed for ADL to crush our US & European ad revenue is to make unfounded accusations,” Musk wrote in a long X thread that started with a clarification that he favors free speech but is “against anti-Semitism of any kind.”
In a 2016 report, the ADL said anti-Semitic attacks against journalists had exploded on Twitter, “thanks to the rhetoric in the 2016 presidential campaign.” It accused the social network of failing to control its “trolling problem.”
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Billionaire Musk has been accused of fueling anti-Semitic tropes, including attacks against Jewish philanthropist George Soros. According to the ADL and the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), problematic and racist speech has sharply risen on X since Musk completed his $44 billion takeover in October.
Since then, the Tesla boss has fired thousands of the platform’s employees, cut content moderation and reinstated former president Donald Trump’s account. Last month, Musk sued the CCDH, accusing it of a smear campaign that damaged the social network’s relationship with advertisers.