Facebook And X Ordered To Remove Sydney Church Stabbing Video; Meta Swiftly Responds, X ‘Too Busy’ To Care

Facebook And X Ordered To Remove Sydney Church Stabbing Video; Meta Swiftly Responds, X ‘Too Busy’ To Care

Social media companies Meta and X have been ordered to remove videos of a 16-year old allegedly stabbing Orthodox Christian leader Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel at his church in Sydney’s west on Monday evening.

Lead Image: A still from the stabbing incident that was captured in a live stream on YouTube and shared on X.

The horrific incident was captured on a live stream of Emmanuel’s mass on YouTube and then shared on other social media platforms.

B&T understands that Meta has already begun a process of identifying and removing all content related to the video on its platforms, including other potential iterations of the content. 

A Meta spokesperson said: “We are deeply saddened by the attack at the Church of the Good Shepherd, and our thoughts are with the victims and their loved ones. Our priority is to protect people using our services from seeing this horrific content even if bad actors are determined to call attention to it. We have taken steps to prevent possible copies of the incident being re-shared and are in contact with law enforcement and the eSafety Commissioner’s office to provide any necessary assistance.”

In stark contrast, Twitter sent B&T one line stating: “Busy now, please check back later”.

On Tuesday, 16 April, the eSafety commissioner Julie Inman Grant issued written notices to remove content from Facebook and X content that is “material depicting gratuitous or offensive violence with a high degree of impact or detail”.  If the companies fail to comply they could be issued with fines.

According to a blog on the Guardian website, Inman Grant said: “While the majority of mainstream social media platforms have engaged with us, I am not satisfied enough is being done to protect Australians from this most extreme and gratuitous violent material circulating online. 

“That is why I am exercising my powers under the Online Safety Act to formally compel them to remove it. I have issued a notice to X requiring them to remove this content. A legal notice will also be sent to Meta this afternoon, and further notices are likely to follow. I will not hesitate to use further graduated powers at my disposal if there is noncompliance.”

The request comes less than a month after Inman Grant issued legal notices to Google, Meta, Twitter/X, WhatsApp, Telegram and Reddit requiring each company to report on steps they are taking to protect Australians from terrorist and violent extremist material and activity.

Australia’s independent regulator for online safety said it continues to receive reports about perpetrator-produced material from terror attacks, including the 2019 terrorist attack in Christchurch, that are re-shared on mainstream platforms.  

Last month, Inman Grant said: “We remain concerned about how extremists weaponise technology like live-streaming, algorithms and recommender systems and other features to promote or share this hugely harmful material.

“We are also concerned by reports that terrorists and violent extremists are moving to capitalise on the emergence of generative AI and are experimenting with ways this new technology can be misused to cause harm.  

“Earlier this month the UN-backed Tech against Terrorism reported that it had identified users of an Islamic State forum comparing the attributes of Google’s Gemini, ChatGPT, and Microsoft’s Copilot.”

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