Twitter/X Fails To Block Content Moderation Disclosure Law In California

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Elon Musk’s X loses bid to block California law that requires social media to publicly disclose their content moderation practices

The legal attempt by Elon Musk’s X (formerly Twitter) to undo a California state law on content moderation, has failed.

Reuters reported that on Thursday, X lost its bid to block a California state law (Assembly Bill No. 587) that requires social media companies to publicly disclose how they moderate certain content on their platforms.

The platform had reportedly sued California in September, alleging the California law violated its free speech rights under the US Constitution’s First Amendment and California’s state constitution.

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Judge ruling

The California law requires social media companies with a sizable gross annual revenue to issue semiannual reports that describe their content moderation practices.

The law means these firms also have to provide data on the number of objectionable posts and how they were addressed.

Now on Thursday, Reuters reported that District Judge William Shubb in an eight-page decision dismissed the social media company’s request.

“While the reporting requirement does appear to place a substantial compliance burden on social medial companies, it does not appear that the requirement is unjustified or unduly burdensome within the context of First Amendment law,” Judge Shubb wrote.

X did not immediately respond to a request for comment, Reuters reported.

Judge Shubb will meet with the lawyers in the case on 26 February 2024 for a scheduling conference, Reuters reported.

Judge Shubb held “terms of service” requirements of the law to be integral and said their presence could be a major deciding factor for users.

Content moderation

Elon Musk’s decision to axe most of Twitter’s content moderation teams, along with 80 percent of the Twitter workforce, has proved to be controversial, and has resulted in an advertising exodus from the platform.

Elon Musk himself has previously admitted a massive decline in advertising on X, and in the summer Musk tweeted that the social media platform has lost about 50 percent of its ad revenues since he took over the company in October 2022.

Last month the New York Times reported that X could lose as much as $75 million in ad revenues by the end of the year, due to the latest advertising exodus from the platform.