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Australia Demands X Delete Content Surrounding Sydney Attack

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Elon Musk’s social media platform X is clashing with Australia’s online safety watchdog over a directive to remove content connected to an alleged church stabbing in Sydney. The incident, where a bishop was attacked during a live-streamed service, has raised concerns about censorship and freedom of speech.

The pro-censorship eSafety Commissioner, Julie Inman Grant, issued notices to both X and Meta, the parent company of Facebook, requesting the removal of some posts about the violent attack. In response, Musk’s platform has indicated its intent to resist these orders, citing a commitment to free speech.

Musk posted on Friday, highlighting his disapproval of what he termed “global content bans” enforced by Australia’s censorship authorities. Despite the threat of fines for non-compliance, X’s legal team maintains that the flagged posts do not violate the platform’s policies on violent content.

X released a statement, shared by Musk, criticizing the order and describing the attack as a “horrific assault on free society.” The platform stated that it complied with the directive while challenging it legally, emphasizing that the eSafety Commission’s scope should be limited to Australian jurisdiction. According to X, demands for global take-downs represent an overreach of authority that undermines the principles of a free and open internet.

The platform pointed out that while it doesn’t allow content praising violence or inciting further attacks, there is an ongoing public discourse about the event. They argue that attempts to suppress global conversations set a dangerous precedent, with broader implications for free speech.

Local authorities, however, have taken a different stance. NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb urged social media platforms to do more to prevent the spread of violent content, criticizing platforms for leaving harmful images online. Similarly, NSW Premier Chris Minns called for stricter penalties for social media companies that fail to act promptly on harmful content.

Despite these concerns, X’s position reflects Musk’s broader commitment to preserving freedom of speech on social media platforms. This outlook has previously led to confrontations with various governments, including a recent conflict with a Brazilian Supreme Court judge over banned accounts.

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