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Elon Musk Criticises Australian PM Over Social Media Censorship

Elon Musk has criticised Australia’s PM Albanese, questioning his jurisdiction over global internet control, amidst a social media censorship dispute.

Elon Musk has on Tuesday, publicly criticised Australia’s Prime Minister after a court ordered his social media company X to remove footage of an alleged terrorist attack in Sydney. Musk stated that the ruling implied any country could control “the entire internet”.

Australia’s Federal Court instructed X, previously known as Twitter, to temporarily conceal posts displaying video footage of the incident, which occurred a week prior. The attack involved a teenager charged with terrorism for assaulting an Assyrian priest and others with a knife.

Although X stated it had already restricted access to the posts for Australian users, Australia’s e-Safety Commissioner insisted on their removal due to the explicit violence depicted.

In response, Musk questioned whether the Prime Minister believed he should have authority over global internet jurisdiction. 

Musk, who acquired X in 2022 with a commitment to safeguarding free speech, shared a meme on the platform portraying X as representing “free speech and truth” in contrast to other social media platforms symbolising “censorship and propaganda”.

Expressing concern, Musk highlighted that allowing any country to censor content for all nations, as demanded by the Australian e-Safety Commissioner, could pave the way for complete internet control by any nation.

This dispute, initiated by the world’s third-richest individual, marks a new confrontation between major internet platforms and entities advocating for increased content oversight.

Recently, a U.S. court dismissed a lawsuit filed by X against the hate speech watchdog, Center for Countering Digital Hate. 

Additionally, in Australia, the e-Safety Commissioner imposed a fine of A$610,500 on X last year for non-compliance with an investigation into anti-child abuse measures; X is contesting this penalty in court.

Responding to Musk’s remarks, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese criticised the billionaire’s stance, asserting that the country would take necessary action against his perceived arrogance and disregard for common decency.

Albanese rebuked Musk’s assertion that court intervention was warranted to publish violent content on a platform, deeming it out-of-touch with societal norms.

Representatives for X and the e-Safety Commissioner were unavailable for immediate comment.

Despite Musk’s claim that X had restricted access to the content for Australian IP addresses, a Reuters journalist in Australia confirmed the video remained accessible on the platform. Additionally, a far-right senator reposted the video on their X account.

In response to the incident, Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, utilised internal tools to identify and block reproductions of the videos depicting the church attack and an unrelated fatal stabbing at a Sydney shopping mall.

Meta announced the removal of posts containing any form of praise or glorification of the incidents.

Alice Dawkins, executive director of internet policy non-profit Reset.Tech Australia, characterised Musk’s comments as reflective of X’s negligent approach to user safety, contrasting with the platform’s previous commitment to such considerations under different leadership.

Chioma Kalu

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