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

US District Judge William Shubb rules that legislation’s disclosure rules are not ‘unjustified or unduly burdensome’.

X sued California in September over the state's content moderation law [File: Carlos Barria/Reuters]

Elon Musk’s X has lost a bid to block a California law that forces social media companies to publicly reveal how they carry out content moderation on their platforms.

X sued the state of California in September, arguing that the first-of-its-kind legislation violates the United States Constitution’s protections of freedom of speech.

Under the measures signed into law last year by California Governor Gavin Newsom, social media firms are required to submit twice-yearly reports on how they tackle hate speech, misinformation and other objectionable content.

US District Judge William Shubb on Thursday denied X’s motion to temporarily suspend the law, ruling that its disclosure obligations are “uncontroversial” and not “unjustified or unduly burdensome within the context of First Amendment law”.

X’s lawsuit had argued that the law “compels companies to engage in speech against their will”, “impermissibly interferes” with a firm’s editorial judgement and pressures companies to remove “constitutionally-protected speech”.

X, formerly Twitter, has seen an exodus of advertisers, including Apple, Disney, IBM and Lions Gate Entertainment, amid controversy over the levels of hate speech and misinformation on the platform and Musk’s own statements.

The social media platform is also under scrutiny by the European Union, which has opened a probe into the company over suspected breaches of the bloc’s Digital Services Act (DSA) related to content about Hamas’s October 7 attacks on Israel.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies