The Babylon Bee Sues To Block California Censorship Law

The satirical site is part of a group that filed a petition in a California federal district court on Tuesday, asking the court to block AB587, a law passed by the California Democrats that will require social media companies, such as Facebook and Twitter, to report to the government certain content, including “hate speeches” and “disinformation”. The plaintiffs say the bill is a vehicle for California Democrats who want to clamp down on speech that they find offensive.

The lawsuit claims that “those who hold power in California have been open about their displeasure at the content of social media platforms.” California Governor Gavin Newsom, and Attorney General Rob Bonta, have both expressed their desire to use the state’s power to suppress speech that they don’t approve of. They refer to constitutionally protected speech with derogatory terms like “disinformation,” “hate speech,” and “extremism.”

The law allows the Attorney General to fine companies who submit late, incomplete or false reports. The plaintiffs say that because the policy does not define terms such as “misinformation”, it grants the attorney general similar broad enforcement powers.

Plaintiffs claim Newsom also signaled true intent of the law.


The governor of California said, “California won’t stand by while social media is weaponized in order to spread hate and misinformation that threatens our communities and the foundational values of this country”, when he signed into law the bill last September.

The Babylon Bee was joined in its lawsuit by Minds, a social media site that promotes free speech. Podcaster Tim Pool also joined the suit. Although theirs is a first legal complaint they are not the only ones to express concerns about the potential impact of the law on free speech.

Internet activists like the Electronic Frontier Foundation fought AB587 while it was making its way through the Legislature, claiming it violated First Amendment. Silicon Valley companies claimed it would undermine their efforts to moderate ‘harmful’ content by allowing bad actors to see their content moderation policies.

AB 587 was passed with the support of groups such as the Anti-Defamation League. The authors of the bill billed it a transparency measure that was meant to provide a neutral way through the debate over internet censorship, which raged both in red and blue state during the COVID-19 epidemic.

The Bee lawsuit is part of a larger campaign against California laws, which critics believe will suppress free speech. A federal judge in January froze the law that targeted doctors who spread “misinformation or disinformation” about the Coronavirus. He said it was unconstitutionally vague.