Elon Musk Clashes with Australian PM Over Court Order to Remove Terrorist Attack Footage from X

Elon Musk clashes with Australian PM over court order to remove Sydney attack footage from X, sparking debate on social media content moderation.

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Nitish Verma
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Elon Musk Clashes with Australian PM Over Court Order to Remove Terrorist Attack Footage from X

Elon Musk Clashes with Australian PM Over Court Order to Remove Terrorist Attack Footage from X

Elon Musk, the owner of social media platform X (formerly Twitter), has criticized Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese after an Australian court ordered X to remove footage of a Sydney terrorist attack. The Federal Court of Australia ordered X to temporarily hide posts showing video of the incident, in which a teenager was charged with terrorism for knifing an Assyrian priest and others.

Musk argued that the ruling meant any country could control "the entire internet" and posted a meme claiming X stands for "free speech and truth" while other platforms represent "censorship and propaganda". Albanese hit back at Musk, calling him an "arrogant billionaire who thinks he is above the law" and said Musk was prioritizing his ego and showing violence over common sense.

The Australian eSafety Commissioner had directed X to remove the footage, which X had only blocked from access in Australia pending a legal challenge. The federal court issued a two-day injunction against X to hide the posts globally. Musk claimed that X was the only truthful platform, while Albanese said the eSafety Commissioner was doing her job to protect Australians.

Why this matters: The dispute highlights the ongoing tensions between social media platforms and governments seeking more oversight of online content, especially in the aftermath of terrorist attacks. It sets up a new front in the battle between X and countries and nonprofits pushing for more content moderation on the platform.

The Australian government and opposition have united behind efforts to have the graphic content removed from X. Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones called X's action "immoral" while Liberal Senator Simon Birmingham rejected claims about censorship, stating that removing imagery of a terrorist attack is not censorship. The government is seeking powers or penalties to make social media companies remove harmful content more quickly.

The court case will return later this week, as the eSafety Commission was granted a late-night injunction compelling X to remove the church stabbing footage for two days pending further arguments. Musk indicated that X would fight the court order, while the Australian government defended the eSafety Commissioner's actions as necessary to protect the interests of Australians.

Key Takeaways

  • Elon Musk criticized Australian PM after court ordered X to remove Sydney attack footage.
  • Australian govt defended eSafety Commissioner's actions to protect Australians from harmful content.
  • Court granted 2-day injunction for X to remove church stabbing footage pending further arguments.
  • Dispute highlights tensions between social media and governments over online content moderation.
  • Australian govt seeks powers to make social media companies remove harmful content quickly.