Elon Musk, X to fight Australia’s eSafety order

Elon Musk’s social media company, X, has leveled accusations of censorship against Australia’s eSafety commissioner, announcing plans to contest a directive to take down posts related to a recent stabbing at a church in Sydney.

The company was instructed by eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant to remove content displaying “gratuitous or offensive violence” within 24 hours or face hefty fines. The content in question involved the alleged stabbing of Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel during a livestreamed service at the Assyrian Christ the Good Shepherd church in Wakeley, along with other videos from the incident’s aftermath.

X responded early Saturday morning, Australian time, with a statement accusing the regulatory body of pushing for global censorship and asserting that it would “vigorously challenge this illegal and dangerous approach in court.”

Although X complied with the initial removal request, it did so temporarily while preparing for legal action, particularly against a subsequent demand from the commissioner threatening a daily fine of A$785,000 unless the posts were globally withheld.

Musk echoed the sentiment of global overreach by reposting X’s statement, highlighting the commissioner’s alleged demands for worldwide content bans. The eSafety Commissioner’s office has not commented on the matter.

Despite claims from X of adherence to the initial removal order, the commissioner reportedly made several attempts to verify full compliance after the content continued to circulate on the platform. NSW Premier Chris Minns expressed his frustration, criticizing X for the unchecked spread of rumors that led to riots and calling for tougher regulations on social media platforms.

Federal Health Minister Mark Butler and Communications Minister Michelle Rowland both affirmed the government’s resolve not to be intimidated by Musk or any tech leaders, emphasizing the necessity for social media to be a safe environment and the expectation for companies to abide by Australian laws.

As the debate intensifies, the eSafety commissioner continues to engage with major social media platforms to address the resharing of violent content, underscoring the importance of compliance with Australian regulations to protect public safety.

Meanwhile, X maintains that it respects national laws but opposes global mandates from a single country’s regulator, arguing such orders contravene the principles of a free and open internet and threaten global free speech rights.

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