Twitter Suing California Over Law Requiring Reports on Hate and Disinformation

This bill is intended to go into effect on January 1. You can read the full text here. There seems to be a lot of confusion about what that text says. I just read it, and I am confused. As far as I’m able to tell, the only thing the bill actually says is that companies have to submit reports on their terms of service and the content that they censored.

The implication, however, is that social media companies should be doing a whole lot of censoring. What’s more – the government doesn’t have a right to put this kind of burden on a company. This report would be millions of words long, based on what the requirements are (they want not only every single action of censorship to be recorded, but every report they got asking for censorship).

If you just look at the bill in a vacuum, however, you would think it was about forcing social media companies to justify mass censorship. But this is California, so the intent is clearly the opposite of that. They want Twitter to report that they’re not censoring “hate speech” and then do something against them because of that.

The Guardian:

Elon Musk’s X sued California on Friday, challenging the constitutionality of a state law establishing new transparency requirements for social media companies, including how they police disinformation, hate speech and extremism.

X, the social media platform once called Twitter, said the law, known as Assembly Bill 587, violates its free speech rights under the US constitution’s first amendment and California’s state constitution.

In a complaint filed in federal court in Sacramento, California, X said the law’s “true intent” was to pressure social media companies into eliminating content the state found objectionable.

By doing so, California is forcing companies to adopt the state’s views on politically charged issues, “a form of compelled speech in and of itself”, X said.

AB 587 requires larger social media companies to issue semiannual reports that describe their content moderation practices, and provide data on the numbers of objectionable posts and how they were addressed.

The law also requires companies to provide copies of their terms of service. Failure to comply risks civil fines of up to $15,000 for each violation a day.

Gavin Newsom, California’s Democratic governor, signed the law last September, saying the state would not let social media be “weaponized” to spread hate and disinformation.

See – there you go. He’s the one saying that is the purpose of the law, even though the law itself just says you have to submit reports.

Newsom is publicly framing this as a way to silence freedom of speech based on this “hate and disinformation” gibberish.

The mechanism through which these reports will turn into censorship is not clear. Most likely, they are just going to whine about how Elon is not censoring enough, and then allow the ADL to use that to further pressure the federal government to pass hate speech laws. Or whatever.

Jesse Gabriel, an assembly member and author of the bill, said in a statement that “if Twitter has nothing to hide, then they should have no objection to this bill”.

“Assembly Bill 587 is a pure transparency measure that simply requires 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,” he said.

It does read like a very arduous “transparency measure.” But you see what Newsom is saying.

Meanwhile, the federal government – which is also run by the Democrats – is continuing to face challenges over their own policies of ordering social media companies to censor things.

We all get what’s happening here.

The number one threat to the government is freedom of speech.

They can use all of this language about how it is “dangerous speech” that they are censoring. Obviously, every single government in the history of the world that has engaged in censorship has said that the information they were censoring was “dangerous.”

I mean, when someone gets punished in North Korea for speech, no one in the society views it as “oppression.” They view it in the same way Americans view it when someone gets punished for speech: “It’s dangerous speech that is a threat to our society.”

In America, it’s now totally normal for people to say “well, of course we have to censor hate speech and disinformation.” In North Korea – which we are supposed to believe is this totally oppressive society – anyone is going to say “well, of course we have to censor capitalist propaganda and disinformation.”

There is no government ever that said “we’re censoring because we are lying to you and we have to cover it up.”

Why would any government say that?