Elon Musk’s X Corp is embroiled in a legal battle with the state of California over AB 587, a state bill that mandates social media platforms to semiannually report their approaches to moderating specific speech categories to the state attorney general. The lawsuit alleges that AB 587 violates federal and state free speech laws by compelling companies like X Corp to engage in speech against their will, forcing them to define and moderate “politically-charged” issues like hate speech and racism.
X Corp’s complaint contends that defining categories such as hate speech and misinformation is challenging and often tainted by political bias, as there is no widely accepted consensus on their meanings within the public sphere. By mandating these definitions, X Corp argues it is coerced into taking a stance on these contentious matters.
The suit further asserts that AB 587 aims to pressure social media companies to “eliminate” constitutionally-protected content that the state deems problematic. Governor Gavin Newsom’s office presented it as a “nation-leading social media transparency” measure upon signing it into law in September of the previous year. Similar laws governing social media moderation have been enacted in Texas and Florida, with legal challenges awaiting a Supreme Court decision.
Social media moderation remains an unsolved challenge, with companies like X employing tools such as automated systems and community flagging for content moderation and fact-checking. X Corp recently introduced Community Notes for videos, allowing “Top Writers” to provide context for potentially misleading videos, though it carries the risk of inadvertently spreading misinformation. Reddit faced criticism for replacing longtime moderators with potentially less experienced ones, while Bluesky acknowledged that its moderation approach could hinder fact-checking efforts on the platform.