April 24, 2024

Elon Musk's X Faces Content Moderation Backlash in California

X, formerly known as Twitter, faced a setback in its attempt to overturn the content moderation law in California. This legislation makes it mandatory for social media companies to provide public disclosures on their content moderation practices.

The decision from the court marks a crucial moment in the ongoing legal tussle between regulatory bodies and social media giants.

Previously, X filed a lawsuit against California, challenging the law for its constituency as it required them to detail their content moderation procedures.

In this lawsuit, X pointed out that the mandate violated the free speech rights as per California’s state constitution and the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.

The law had been formulated to target companies with substantial annual revenue and compel them to reveal data on objectionable posts along with their approach to handling them.

The Judicial Verdict Dismissed Plea from X

In an eight-page ruling, US District Judge William Shubb dismissed the plea from X.

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.Judge William Shubb

This decision demonstrates the commitment of the court to balance the urgency for transparency and free speech rights.

Judge Shubb explained the importance of the “terms of service” of the law, stating that they were potentially influential and integral for users.

In recent months, X has struggled against content moderation policies in the US, which significantly strained its financial stature. It was back in October 2022 that Musk took over the social media platform, then Twitter.

Since then, the company has witnessed a staggering monthly decline in revenue, which is estimated to be at least 55% Y-o-Y each month. Adding to its woes, advertisers refrained from their campaigns on X following concerns over its content moderation policies.

Content Moderation Policies Of X Under Scrutiny In Europe, Too

The content moderation policies of X have come under scrutiny beyond the US. Under the Digital Services Act (DSA), the EU has initiated an investigation as it suspects the social media giant to have breached rules related to posts on the attack on Israel by Hamas.

This has been the first probe under the DSA, which demonstrates the struggles of X in moderating content on its platform. In response to intense scrutiny, X expressed its commitment to comply with the guidelines set by the DSA and cooperate with the regulatory process.

As X continues to struggle with legal setbacks in the US along with scrutiny from the EU, the clash between the necessity for transparency in content moderation policy and free speech intensifies.

Industry observers keenly await the outcome of this legal struggle, which can set examples for other social media giants violating content moderation policies.

Currently, X finds itself at a crossroads, facing crucial legal consequences that may reshape how social media companies should moderate content and bring it to public view.

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