Updated April 23rd, 2024 at 10:58 IST

Elon Musk criticises Australian PM over social media censorship ruling

Elon Musk criticised Australia's PM after a court ordered his X to remove content about a Sydney incident, arguing it implied global internet control.

Reported by: Business Desk
Elon Musk X lawsuit | Image:Republic

Musk fights censorship: Elon Musk expressed strong disapproval towards Australia's prime minister on Tuesday following a court decision mandating his social media platform X to remove content depicting an alleged terrorist incident in Sydney. Musk argued that such rulings implied global control over the internet by any country.

During the recent court session, Australia's Federal Court instructed X, previously known as Twitter, to temporarily remove posts containing footage of the incident where a teenager was charged with terrorism for attacking an Assyrian priest and others with a knife. Although X had already restricted access to the posts for Australian users, the e-Safety Commissioner of Australia insisted on their removal due to graphic violence.

Musk defends free speech

In response, Musk criticised Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, questioning whether he believed in having jurisdiction over the entire Earth. Musk, who acquired X in 2022 with a stated goal of upholding free speech, shared a meme suggesting that X symbolised "free speech and truth" while other platforms represented "censorship and propaganda."

Musk further argued that if any country could dictate content censorship for all nations, as demanded by the Australian e-Safety Commissioner, it could pave the way for complete control of the internet by any state.

This clash between Elon Musk, the world's third-richest individual, and governmental authorities marks a new phase in the ongoing struggle between major internet platforms and entities advocating for increased content regulation.

Legal setbacks for X

Notably, in a recent development, a US judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by X against the hate speech monitoring organisation, Centre for Countering Digital Hate. In Australia, X faced a fine of A$610,500 last year from the e-Safety Commissioner for non-cooperation with an investigation into anti-child abuse measures; X is contesting this penalty in court.

In response to Musk's remarks, Prime Minister Albanese criticised the billionaire's stance, asserting that Australia would take necessary actions against his perceived arrogance and disregard for common decency.

Meanwhile, X and the e-Safety Commissioner have not yet provided comments on the matter.

Despite Musk's claim that X had blocked the content for Australian IP addresses, a Reuters journalist in Australia was able to access the video on the platform. Additionally, a far-right senator reposted the video on his X account.

Meta combats violent content

On the same day, Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, announced its utilisation of internal tools to identify and remove copies of videos depicting the church attack and an unrelated fatal stabbing at a Sydney shopping mall. Meta stated that it was deleting posts glorifying or praising the incidents.

Alice Dawkins, executive director of the internet policy non-profit Reset.Tech Australia, opined that Musk's statements aligned with X's negligent approach under current leadership, contrasting with its previous commitment to user safety.


Published April 23rd, 2024 at 10:58 IST