Elon Musk's X suffers major setback in California battle over content moderation

San Francisco, California - Elon Musk's X has lost a legal challenge to block a California law that requires content moderation disclosures.

Elon Musk's X will have to regularly disclose its content moderation practices after a judge ruled against its legal challenge to a new California law.
Elon Musk's X will have to regularly disclose its content moderation practices after a judge ruled against its legal challenge to a new California law.  © Collage: REUTERS & Kirsty Wigglesworth / POOL / AFP

A US judge on Thursday denied a motion by X asking for a temporary suspension of a new California law requiring social media companies to issue semi-annual reports detailing their content moderation practices and their enforcement, along with data about objectionable posts.

The law, signed in 2022 by California Governor Gavin Newsom, aims to address issues like hate speech, disinformation, harassment, and extremism on social media sites.

X had sued the state to block the law, on the grounds that it violated its free speech rights under the Constitution's First Amendment and California's state constitution.

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The legal challenge was dismissed by US District Judge William Shubb.

"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 judge wrote in an eight-page ruling.

Shubb planned a meeting with lawyers on February 26, 2024, for a scheduling conference.

X has been facing an avalanche of challenges related to content moderation since Musk took over Twitter and rebranded it.

Earlier this month, the European Commission announced legal steps against X over the spread of disinformation and transparency breaches under a recent EU law.

Advertisers have also been deserting the platform in droves due to Musk's erratic decision-making and behavior.

Cover photo: Collage: REUTERS & Kirsty Wigglesworth / POOL / AFP

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