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21 Apr, 2024 06:38

Musk’s X threatens legal action over church stabbing footage

The platform says it has complied with an Australian eSafety order to remove posts on the attack
Musk’s X threatens legal action over church stabbing footage

Elon Musk’s social media platform X (formerly Twitter) has accused Australia’s eSafety commissioner of censorship, and vowed to contest in court an order to remove content related to the recent Sydney church stabbing.

According to a statement issued by the social media giant on Saturday, the Australian online safety watchdog had demanded that the company “globally withhold these posts or face a daily fine of $785,000 AUD (about $500,000 USD).”

On Monday, four people, including a bishop with a worldwide online following, were wounded in a knife attack at Christ The Good Shepherd Church in the district of Wakeley in Sydney. Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel was speaking during an evening service when a young man approached and lunged at him with a knife, repeatedly stabbing the bishop in the head and chest, while reportedly referring to insults against “my Prophet.”

The incident – which also left two officers injured and was declared an act of terrorism by police – was captured on a church livestream and quickly circulated online.

Following the tragic event, the eSafety commissioner, Julie Inman Grant, issued a notice to X and Meta, ordering them to remove material that depicts “gratuitous or offensive violence with a high degree of impact or detail.”

X hit back at the regulator, saying, “eSafety’s order was not within the scope of Australian law,” adding that the company complied with the directive “pending a legal challenge.”

“While X respects the right of a country to enforce its laws within its jurisdiction, the eSafety Commissioner does not have the authority to dictate what content X’s users can see globally,” X’s Global Government Affairs team said in a statement.

Elon Musk, the owner of X and free speech advocate, shared the post, saying, “The Australian censorship commissar is demanding *global* content bans!”

While the eSafety commissioner’s office declined to comment on the statement, New South Wales Premier Chris Minns argued that the platform allowed “lies and rumors” about the stabbing to spread “like wildfire” but was not prepared to do anything when things went wrong.

”We have had enough, Sydney has had enough,” he said, calling for tougher regulations on social media platforms.