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24 Apr, 2024 10:20

Musk takes on Australia over stabbing video

One country should not be able to censor the entire internet, the tech billionaire has argued
Musk takes on Australia over stabbing video

Tech billionaire Elon Musk has insisted he will not comply with an Australian order to remove a video in which a priest was stabbed from his X (formerly Twitter) platform. The entrepreneur has been told to withdraw the content, which features a non-fatal knife attack on an Assyrian bishop, for users worldwide.

The stabbing took place during a live-streamed sermon at a church in the suburbs of Sydney on April 15. Footage of the attack, which the Australian authorities have deemed to be terrorism, quickly garnered multiple views online and allegedly prompted heated protests near the crime scene.

The following day, Australia’s eSafety commissioner, Julie Inman Grant, ordered X and Meta to delete the footage entirely from their social platforms within 24 hours, including for users outside the country. “Every minute counts, and the more this content is up there, the more it is reshared, the more the velocity and the virality continues and we need to stem that,” she argued.

While Meta swiftly complied with the order, X said that it had only removed the video in Australia “pending a legal challenge.” Inman’s order for the clip to be brought down worldwide “was not within the scope of Australian law,” it argued. The company added that Canberra had threatened it with a daily fine of AUS$785,000 (US$510,000) over its reluctance to fulfill the demand.

On Monday, a federal court in Sydney ordered a temporary ban on the stabbing video for all X users, pending a hearing on a permanent ban on Wednesday. In its injunction against the platform, the eSafety Commission claimed that “geoblocking” of the footage by X was not enough due to the ability of the Australians to access it through VPN.

On Tuesday, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese labeled Musk an “arrogant billionaire who thinks he’s above the law, but also above common decency.” Albanese claimed to ABC that the Tesla and SpaceX CEO was “out of touch” over his willingness to go to court in order to keep violent content online.

Musk responded to Albanese a few hours later, explaining that “our concern is that if any country is allowed to censor content for all countries, which is what the Australian ‘eSafety Commissar’ is demanding, then what is to stop any country from controlling the entire Internet?” 

He also shared a post revealing that X has now become the most downloaded app in Australia. “The Australian people want the truth. X is the only one standing up for their rights,” Musk wrote.