X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, will launch a legal challenge against forthcoming anti-hate-speech laws in Ireland, its US billionaire owner Elon Musk has announced.
Having previously slammed the planned legislation as a “massive attack on freedom of speech”, Musk has now declared he is planning a legal challenge to try to torpedo the bill.
“X will be filing legal action to stop this,” he told his social media followers, adding that he “can’t wait for discovery to start”.
X will be filing legal action to stop this. Can’t wait for discovery to start! https://t.co/ROxXEuO8it
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 23, 2023
The announcement has been welcomed by many in Ireland, with free-speech activists in particular expressing support for legal challenges against the new rules.
“Now for the second time in a few months, Musk is drawing international attention to it,” a spokesman for Free Speech Ireland told Brussels Signal.
“The Hate Speech Bill is back at the forefront of the Public Consciousness and not about to go away any time soon.”
By contrast, Musk’s decision represents more bad news for Ireland’s progressive government, which has been experiencing continued national and international pushback regarding the legislation.
With the ruling Fine Gael party having long aimed to install functioning hate-speech rules in the country, justice minister Helen McEntee was initially able to quietly push the legislation through the Irish Parliament without much fanfare.
Debates on the bill were poorly attended both by government MPs and those in opposition, with the country’s mainstream media also largely ignoring the bill in its initial stages.
Ireland’s planned anti-hate-speech laws have reportedly left politicians in the country spooked after the arrest of an autistic girl in the UK. https://t.co/5Gq5WofsoT
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) August 14, 2023
Concerns raised by free-speech activists in the country soon brought international attention, with the revelation that the new rules could make it illegal for someone to possess an “offensive” meme – even if they did not intend to share it – causing outrage online.
Alongside Musk, former US President Donald Trump waded into the debate, describing the proposed legislation in Ireland as being “insane”.
Although the Irish Government tried to brush off international condemnation of the proposed law, criticisms of the bill were quickly echoed back home.
The legislation has now seen a spike in opposition within the country’s Senate, with many coalition backbenchers now demanding a rethink.
Mounting pressure is also being put on McEntee over the controversial rules, with the justice minister recently attempting to distance herself from the legislation.
“It is not my sole focus, it is not my sole priority,” she said regarding the bill, insisting that she was also working on measures aimed at tackling “normal” crime.
McEntee has faced numerous calls to resign amid a significant rise in attacks on both natives and foreign tourists in the Irish capital Dublin in recent weeks.
Ireland’s forthcoming anti-hate-speech bill must be “halted with immediate effect”, the youth wing of one of the country’s ruling parties stated. https://t.co/LXzHVMSsNC
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) August 6, 2023