In a recent legal showdown between X Corp. and California’s regulatory measures, US District Judge William Shubb dealt a blow to the corporation’s efforts to block a state law requiring transparency from social media giants.
The law in question, AB 587, commands significant social media entities to not only disclose their terms of service but also submit comprehensive semiannual reports detailing their content moderation strategies.
These strategies specifically target areas such as hate speech, racism, extremism, disinformation, harassment, and foreign political interference.
X Corp. took legal action against California Attorney General Rob Bonta following the enactment of AB 587 in September.
The corporation argued that the law compelled speech and infringed upon their editorial discretion, violations it deemed contrary to the First Amendment and state constitution.
However, Judge Shubb’s recent ruling dismissed X Corp.’s motion for a preliminary injunction, rejecting claims that the reporting obligations imposed by AB 587 violated constitutional rights.
He asserted that while compliance might impose a burden, the requirements for disclosure were not unduly burdensome in the context of First Amendment law.
Shubb emphasized that the mandated disclosures were ‘uncontroversial,’ merely seeking identification of existing content moderation policies.
Court Dismisses X Corp.’s Challenge on Content Regulation
X Corp.’s complaint highlighted the law’s underlying aim of pressuring social media companies to regulate objectionable content, a point the court acknowledged but ultimately did not find infringing upon free speech rights.
Shubb maintained that the mandated disclosures were factual and not contentious in themselves, even if they touched upon controversial topics.
Crucially, Judge Shubb upheld the state’s argument that AB 587 served a substantial government interest in ensuring transparency about content moderation policies.
He emphasized that the law aimed to empower users to make informed decisions regarding their engagement with news dissemination platforms.
Furthermore, the court rejected arguments invoking Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a shield often used by Big Tech to protect themselves from liability as third-party publishers.
Shubb clarified that AB 587 targeted liability only concerning the failure to provide required disclosures or the misrepresentation of information, rather than penalizing content moderation actions themselves.
In essence, the court’s ruling upholds California’s push for accountability and transparency within the social media landscape, setting a precedent for similar legislative efforts aimed at reining in the unchecked influence of tech giants.
X Corp. faces the task of complying with the state’s disclosure requirements, emphasizing a new era of increased accountability in the realm of online content moderation.
Read Next: Colorado Families Eligible for Up to $1,694 in Stimulus Tax Refunds