X And Elon Musk To Sue Australia’s eSafety Commissioner Over Sydney Stabbing Takedown Order

X And Elon Musk To Sue Australia’s eSafety Commissioner Over Sydney Stabbing Takedown Order

Tech billionaire Elon Musk and the social media platform he owns, X, has threatened to take Australia’s online safety regulator to court over a request to remove content related to the Sydney church stabbings last week.

Lead image: X owner Elon Musk has threatened to take eSafety to court over a takedown order that he doesn’t think is applicable to the global social media platform.

Last Tuesday, eSafety commissioner Julie Inman Grant issued Meta and X with a takedown order to remove videos of alleged stabbing of bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel at the Assyrian Christ the Good Shepherd church in Wakeley. 

A service by the bishop had been live streamed on YouTube before videos showing the incident were shared on Facebook and X.

When B&T contacted Meta following the order, the social media company said it was working to remove content related to the incident, but X did not respond at the time.

Over the weekend a statement on X’s Global Government Affairs account said the social media platform had been threatened with daily fines of US$500,000 ($778,331) and that it would comply pending a legal challenge.

X said posts that “publicly commented on the recent attack” did not violate its community standards on violent speech and that the social media company does not believe eSafety’s order was “within the scope of Australian law”, before adding that it has 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. We will robustly challenge this unlawful and dangerous approach in court. 

“Global takedown orders go against the very principles of a free and open internet and threaten free speech everywhere.”

Musk shared the post with his 180-plus million followers, taking a swipe at global content bans.

Australia has some of the toughest online safety laws in the world, with eSafety recently being granted new powers to require internet service providers to block access to material showing abhorrent violent conduct, such as terrorist acts.

If X follows through with the legal threat, it will test Australia’s beefed up online safety regime and how effectively it can ask global platforms to remove content that is posted and often shared beyond its borders.

Over the weekend, Australian politicians took to the airwaves to criticise Musk and X’s approach to policing violent content on its platform.

NSW premier Chris Minns said on Saturday that X had shown “a disregard for the information they pump into our communities, lies and rumours spreading like wildfire and then when things go wrong, throwing their hands up in the air to say they are not prepared to do anything about it”.

Federal communications minister Michelle Rowland said that online platforms that “operate in Australia…should comply with the law. It’s as simple as that.”

Meanwhile, late last week eSafety said it was “disappointed that the process has been unnecessarily prolonged” and that it would continue to work with platforms “to ensure full compliance with Australian law”.

B&T has approached eSafety for a further update on whether has fully complied with the takedown order.




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