X defies Australia’s content removal demands

As tensions escalate between Elon Musk’s tech empire and Australian authorities, a legal showdown looms over the control of online content.

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Elon Musk’s company, formerly known as Twitter and now called X, is gearing up for a legal battle against the government in Australia. The legal move comes in response to orders demanding the removal of content depicting violence and violent extremism. The content in question involves two recent knife attacks: one resulting in multiple deaths at a shopping centre and another targeting a Christian bishop in his church.

In the wake of these attacks, inflammatory and false information circulated, with a prominent Australian figure using X to wrongly attribute the shopping centre incident to a Jewish man. A mainstream television news outlet also amplified this misinformation by broadcasting false claims. The church attack officially declared a terrorist incident, involved a teenage assailant stabbing an Assyrian bishop, who enjoys a significant following on social media.

Prompted by disseminating graphic footage from these incidents on social media platforms, Australia’s eSafety Commissioner, tasked with online safety enforcement, issued orders to remove such content. While X initially attempted to comply with these demands, it later refused to remove the video of the church attack globally, citing the lack of authority for such requests outside of Australia’s jurisdiction. X announced its intention to challenge this directive in court, denouncing it as unlawful and dangerous.

This stance from X has sparked intense criticism from Australian politicians, who advocate for stricter regulations on social media platforms. The clash underscores the ongoing debate surrounding tech companies’ responsibilities in curbing harmful content online and the balance between free speech and preventing violence and misinformation.