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Musk falls short in bid to block mandatory reporting law

Elon Musk's X has been denied in its efforts to block a California law mandating regular reports into its moderation practices

X owner Elon Musk has failed in his attempt to appeal a California law requiring platforms to report on content moderation policies and practices.

District Court Judge William Schubb denied a motion from the social media company commonly known as Twitter for a temporary restraining order against the enforcement of AB 587.

The state bill, signed into law in 2023, requires social media providers with more than $100m in revenues to issue quarterly reports detailing both their terms of service policies and efforts to enforce those terms around things like disinformation campaigns, hate speech, and targeted harassment.

X had filed suit earlier this year seeking to halt enforcement of the law on the grounds that its reporting requirements were in violation of the First Amendment. In his ruling issued late Friday, Schubb found that those claims were not strong enough to merit an injunction.

"Although the terms of service may not literally be advertisements in the sense of proposing a business transaction, they are directed to potential consumers and may presumably play a role in the decision to use a platform," the Judge noted in a copy of the judgement first obtained by The Verge.

"They refer to the company's product or service, i.e., the social media platform, and communicate important information concerning the platform and how users may utilize the product."

X has yet to issue a statement on the decision. Musk, who describes himself as a "Free Speech Absolutist" has enforced a strict policy at X against responding to media inquiries.

Jesse Gabriel, the California Assemblyman who authored the bill, said that the ruling was a strong indication that AB 587 will withstand any legal challenge from social media companies.

"I am pleased that the Court denied Elon Musk’s motion and held that he is unlikely to succeed in this lawsuit," said Gabriel.

"As we have repeatedly emphasized, Assembly Bill 587 is a pure transparency measure that simply requires Twitter and other companies to be upfront about if and how they are moderating content. It in no way requires any specific content moderation policies — which is why it passed with strong, bipartisan support."