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USA News

Elon Musk fights order to remove video of alleged stabbing of bishop in Sydney

by Donna Birrell

Elon Musk is fighting an order to remove content on his social media site X which shows the alleged stabbing of a bishop in Australia on Monday.

Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel of the Christ the Good Shepherd Church in a suburb of Sydney was allegedly stabbed while he was presiding over Mass on Monday evening. A teenager has been charged with a terrorism offence in connection with the incident. The incident was livestreamed as part of the church’s social media channel which has over 200,000 subscribers and police and politicians fear it could incite further violence.

On Tuesday, Australia’s eSafety commissioner Julie Inman Grant said social media giants X and Facebook’s parent company Meta, would be issued with a notice of removal. The notice relates to content depicting 'gratuitous or offensive violence with a high degree of impact or detail.’

However, Elon Musk is disputing the order, claiming the posts don’t violate the site’s rules. In a post on X earlier today, Saturday he wrote: “The Australian censorship commissar is demanding *global* content bans” and he posted a response from X’s Global Government Affairs Team:

“The recent attacks in Australia are a horrific assault on free society. Our condolences go out to those who have been affected, and we stand with the Australian people in calling for those responsible to be brought to justice. Following these events, the Australian eSafety Commissioner ordered X to remove certain posts in Australia that publicly commented on the recent attack against a Christian Bishop. These posts did not violate X’s rules on violent speech. X believes that eSafety’s order was not within the scope of Australian law and we complied with the directive pending a legal challenge. X has now received a demand from the eSafety Commissioner that X globally withhold these posts or face a daily fine of $785,000 AUD (about $500,000 USD). This was a tragic event and we do not allow people to praise it or call for further violence. There is a public conversation happening about the event, on X and across Australia, as is often the case when events of major public concern occur. 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.”

On Friday, New South Wales Police Commissioner Karen Webb also called on social media sites to do more to screen their content:

“I think leading a social media platform should bring with it big social, corporate responsibility. I think to have images like that online, they need to be removed immediately and not left up there.”

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