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FILE PHOTO: Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese hosts special summit with ASEAN leaders in Melbourne
FILE PHOTO: Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese gives an address to the Leaders’ Plenary during the 2024 ASEAN-Australia Special Summit at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre in Melbourne, Australia, March 6, 2024. JOEL CARRETT/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo Image: Reuters/JOEL CARRETT
world

Australian PM calls Musk arrogant billionaire; Musk hits back after court orders X to hide church stabbing posts

38 Comments
By Byron Kaye and Renju Jose

Elon Musk lashed out at Australia's prime minister on Tuesday after a court ordered his social media company X to take down footage of an alleged terrorist attack in Sydney, and said the ruling meant any country could control "the entire internet."

At a hearing overnight, Australia's Federal Court ordered X to temporarily hide posts showing video of the incident a week earlier, in which a teenager was charged with terrorism for knifing an Assyrian priest and others.

X said it had already blocked the posts from Australian users, but Australia's e-Safety Commissioner had said the content should be taken down since it showed explicit violence.

Billionaire Musk, who bought X in 2022 with a declared mission to save free speech, posted a meme on the platform that showed X stood for "free speech and truth" while other social media platforms represented "censorship and propaganda".

"Don't take my word for it, just ask the Australian PM!" he wrote alongside the post.

In another post, Musk wrote that the company's "concern is that if ANY country is allowed to censor content for ALL countries, which is what the Australian 'eSafety Commissar' is demanding, then what is to stop any country from controlling the entire Internet?"

The pushback by the world's third-richest person sets up a new front in the battle between the platform he paid $44 billion for and countries and nonprofits seeking more oversight of its content.

Last month, a U.S. judge threw out a lawsuit by X against the hate speech watchdog, Center for Countering Digital Hate. In Australia, the e-Safety Commissioner fined X A$610,500 last year for failing to cooperate with a probe on anti-child abuse practices; X is fighting that penalty in court.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese hit back at Musk, saying the country would "do what's necessary to take on this arrogant billionaire who thinks he's above the law, but also above common decency.

"The idea that someone would go to court for the right to put up violent content on a platform shows how out-of-touch Mr Musk is," Albanese told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Spokespeople for X and the e-Safety Commissioner were not immediately available for comment.

Although Musk wrote in another post that X had made the attack footage "inaccessible to Australian IP addresses", a Reuters reporter in Australia was able to view to content.

"Pro-terror materials are a particularly strange hill to die on, but fits the company's chaotic and negligent approach to the most basic user safety considerations that under previous leadership, the platform used to take seriously," said Alice Dawkins, executive director of internet policy non-profit Reset.Tech Australia.

Videos of the attack posted online showed the attacker, restrained by the congregation, shouting at the bishop for insulting Islam. Police have charged a 16-year-old with a terrorism offense over the attack.

The regulator had asked X to remove certain posts that publicly commented on the attack, which could include videos.

Judge Geoffrey Kennett, in an after-hours hearing, ordered X to block access to the posts until Wednesday afternoon, court documents showed. The matter will be considered again on Wednesday.

Albanese said social media must have social responsibility but Musk was fighting to keep violent content on his platform.

"What the eSafety Commissioner is doing, is doing her job to protect the interests of Australians."

Musk had earlier called the eSafety commissioner the "Australian censorship commissar", drawing rebuke from Albanese who described X's fight against removing violent content as "extraordinary".

"I'd like to take a moment to thank the PM for informing the public that this platform is the only truthful one," Musk said in a post on X hours before Albanese's comments on Tuesday.

© Thomson Reuters 2024.

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

38 Comments
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Yep.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Interesting how Musk has never dared criticise the Chinese Communist Party and their censorship of basically anything and everything.

I wonder why?

16 ( +21 / -5 )

Ok, this is an actual worthy debate, just before the anti-Musk folk start standing up to applause and celebrate the ad hominem attack. What was our labor PM Albanese trying to do here? To stop copycats, or stop information spreading about the nature of the crimes, who committed them, and in what name? It's an important conversation worth having. You don't just scream bad Musk, bad billionaire ( yawn ) as justification for shutting it down or dictating what people can and can't see. Many don't need this form of paternalism for our politicians, nor our media.

-8 ( +10 / -18 )

The posts in question are mentioning the religion and motives of the attacker. They are also factual but inconvenient. Censoring the truth is never a good idea.

-6 ( +10 / -16 )

@Ricky Kaminski13 maybe it's because of Musk being picky and choosey about what he allows on Twitter with a heavy bias, he is similar to the Chinese government where he can't take a punch called criticism and he is meddling/affecting other countries laws and stability with him trying to fight to keep violent content and possibly false content as well. Today Australia and Brazil, tomorrow who knows which country is next?

11 ( +16 / -5 )

Possibly fake content. So the government is here to save us from that? Sorry Ken mate, not buying it for a second.

-10 ( +6 / -16 )

Media posts that breed intolerance and religious unrest and bigotry should be scrutinized in a multi cultural, multi religious country like Australia.

If unfettered free speech breeds violence in some instances {rare in fact } then public interest for a minority {or voyeurs} is outweighed by public safety.

If the free speech advocates are so numerous and worthy in their pursuit, then vote for another party.

I'm sure they'll garnish, say, 0.5% of the vote.

5 ( +10 / -5 )

Possibly fake content. So the government is here to save us from that? Sorry Ken mate, not buying it for a second.

I never said they were heroes but at times where terrorist attacks or tragedies happen it is the government's job to keep peace and have their citizens feel comforted. Had the owner of Twitter be someone with more professionalism and more respectful this wouldn't be a thing.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

Point taken Ken, but you may find that most adult Australians disagree with you. After the shemozzle that was the pandemic, the miscalls, overreach, and abuse from those in the seats of power ( like yesterday in terms of how fresh it still is, talk to Melbournians), confidence isn't exactly at an all-time high. People now are more determined to think for themselves, which I believe is a good thing.

Get it all out there, warts and all, we can handle it and have a little faith in the populace, the deep fakes aren't quite upon us yet and if it were a fake video then it would be proven to be so by the public. No government hand necessary.

I even understand your point but I would be one of those free-speech absolutists that are so annoying these days, the other mob hides behind their terms like bigotry, misogyny, and racism (check above), which has been cried wolf so oftenthe terms are starting to be devoid of any real meaning. Great job btw!

Basically we can handle it, so get it out there. The good, the bad and the ugly.

-7 ( +8 / -15 )

So Musk is arrogant ?

What has that PM created, done with his own hands ? A space company that has changed the world ? A new EV car company that has forced all car companies to switch to EV ? A means to pay directly without a bank ? ...

That PM is so arrogant !

Being an adult, if I want to see the real video of a terrorist attack, why should I be censored ? In that PM's name ?

Spend money on education, not censorship.

Musk is not my God, neither PM Albanese !

-7 ( +9 / -16 )

PM is the worst one Australia has ever seen the dribble that comes out his mouth is not worth listening to.

-4 ( +10 / -14 )

What has that PM created, done with his own hands ? A space company that has changed the world ? A new EV car company that has forced all car companies to switch to EV ? A means to pay directly without a bank ? 

Not that any of this makes Musk not arrogant, but Musk hasn't done most of this with his own hands.

5 ( +11 / -6 )

A politician pledging for MORE censorship. Who would have thought? Of course he will, those videos only showcase the incompetence and inefficiencies of the systems under his command.

-3 ( +7 / -10 )

Tesla is down 42% YTD. Elon, what in the world are you doing? What is your job? Trump/Elon people need to understand that Musk never wanted to buy Tesla in the first place and because of his big mouth he was legally forced to.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Sure. Let's hide the truth about Islamic terrorists. They're not bad people; they're just misunderstood.

Morons.

-3 ( +7 / -10 )

Interesting how Musk has never dared criticise the Chinese Communist Party and their censorship of basically anything and everything.

Musk is taking a punt on free-speech absolutism making him more money than any other stance, except when he is not.

11 ( +13 / -2 )

Sure. Let's hide the truth about Islamic terrorists. They're not bad people; they're just misunderstood.

It is not about hiding a truth, in that case people were posting content from different countries and or video game war cut scenes and labeling it as what happened to Israel. Which led to people from other countries being racist and violent towards anyone who looked as if they were of Muslim decent

9 ( +11 / -2 )

What has that PM created, done with his own hands ? A space company that has changed the world ? A new EV car company that has forced all car companies to switch to EV ? A means to pay directly without a bank ? 

Albo is a political hack out of his depth in a puddle. He was a political staffer after university and was rewarded for his loyalty with a safe seat in parliament. So apart from creating a comfortable spot for himself at taxpayer expense, he hasn't created anything at all of substance.

-10 ( +3 / -13 )

Musk hasn't done most of this with his own hands.

It’s fine to respect work done with the hands, but work done with the mind appears to be of even higher value.

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

"Pro-terror materials are a particularly strange hill to die on, but fits the company's chaotic and negligent approach to the most basic user safety considerations that under previous leadership, the platform used to take seriously," said Alice Dawkins, executive director of internet policy non-profit Reset.Tech Australia.

This says it all, as far as wanker Musk is concerned. Regarding the usual intellectually-challenged nonsense from Ricky & co: No you fool, that's not fake content. That's real violence. And sensible leaders are interested in turning down the heat on sectarian violence, not fanning the flames. Thanks Albo! Keep up the good work.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

P.S. This Emmanual character, the "Christian" who got stabbed, had been disowned by the wider church body (the base, in Ethiopia) some time ago, for his loopy rants on various topics. Insulting Islam and the prophets of Islam is NOT what serious religious leaders of any faith do. This nutcase did. The fact that he got a face-full of cold steel was hardly surprising.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Since Covid, Australia has begun to resemble a police state!

-8 ( +4 / -12 )

Since Covid, Australia has begun to resemble a police state!

Um...no, it hasn't actually.

You could possibly argue that there's been a bit of a slide towards a nanny state over the past couple of decades, e.g. compulsory bicycle helmets, pool fences etc., although even that kind of stuff isn't exactly crazy.

Give Lurch (Dutton) a term in office and we might have cause to re-think that though.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Since Covid, Australia has begun to resemble a police state!

Hysterical.

The countries you constantly defend - notably Communist China and Fascist Russia - ARE full-blown, 100% police states. Yet you won't utter a peep against them and their blanket censorship.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Australia would be better served if Albanese and the Australian government put their efforts into clamping down on the content, either on-line or in person content that brainwashed that kid into being radicalized.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

Australia would be better served if Albanese and the Australian government put their efforts into clamping down on the content, either on-line or in person content that brainwashed that kid into being radicalized.

Governments don't have the reach to affect every area of life as much as we might hope. There's only so much any government can do, especially when it comes to religious belief. Do you think that maybe government agents in false beards could hang out in houses of worship all over the country, waiting for someone to say something offensive, and then call in a SWAT team?

Moreover, you're suggesting that radicalization was on one side here. It was not. That so-called "Christian" church is an Ethiopian sect run by Emmanual (the guy who got stabbed), who has been disowned by the founders of the church in Ethiopia for his wayward, radical ranting. Radicalization was going on in that church for some time, until the inevitable response came.

For people of deep faith, I guess there's only so much you can take. I would prefer a secular world, but you have to deal with life as it is. The least we can do is to stop automatically assuming that muslims are always the "radicals", and the rest are perfectly fine.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

@Blackstar

Come on, man. A 15 year old child doesn't go around stabbing people in a terrorist attack unless they have been radicalized.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

What I said was, radicalization was not only on one side. The guy who got stabbed was a raving radical, and yes the kid had been radicalized too. A sad state of affairs. "Don't blame Muslims only" was my point.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Billionaire Musk, who bought X in 2022 with a declared mission to save free speech, posted a meme on the platform that showed X stood for "free speech and truth" while other social media platforms represented "censorship and propaganda".

Yeah, and he restored the account of Antichrist trump so he sass off his hateful violent and threatening screeds again.

"Don't take my word for it, just ask the Australian PM!" he wrote alongside the post.

Now Muskrat's screaming like his messiah Diaper-Stinking Trashtrump. Note how he's screaming like a brat, 'Mo-oooom! Anthony is making faces at me and calling me names! Waaaaaaaahhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!'.

Yet he allows posts by traitortrump, neo-Nazis and other violent trash. Why is that?

And of course, it's 'OK' and 'fashionable' to badmouth Jews again like Muskrat has been doing too.

He's not a human being, he has a child with an unhumanly name. He likes to stir up crap in the pot, make a zillion dollars, and is a greedy whiny crybaby. And he needs to shutitip!!!!!

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Jonathan Prin

So Musk is arrogant ?

What has that PM created, done with his own hands ? A space company that has changed the world ? A new EV car company that has forced all car companies to switch to EV ?

Well to be fair, Musk has a track record of very successful companies. (BTW he didn't found Tesla, he bought into that company.)

A means to pay directly without a bank ? ...

Before he was ousted as CEO and replaced by Thiel.

That PM is so arrogant !

You aren't making an argument here. Many successful people are arrogant. You are just saying that Musk is a successful person.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese hit back at Musk, saying the country would "do what's necessary to take on this arrogant billionaire who thinks he's above the law, but also above common decency.

Yeah. Musk is being arrogant.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

X said it had already blocked the posts from Australian users

What exactly is the problem? If Australia wanted the content unviewable to Australians and X did so why is there an issue?

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

JboneInTheZone

X said it had already blocked the posts from Australian users

What exactly is the problem? If Australia wanted the content unviewable to Australians and X did so why is there an issue?

But it isn't. Anyone could use a VPN to still view the content. Surely Musk understands that and is being disingenuous.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

But it isn't. Anyone could use a VPN to still view the content. Surely Musk understands that and is being disingenuous.

Why is that X’s problem? Why should what I view as an American be up to lawmakers in Australia? Should X be forced to take down images of women in bathing suits because those same images could be deemed illegal in Saudi Arabia?

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

JboneInTheZone

But it isn't. Anyone could use a VPN to still view the content. Surely Musk understands that and is being disingenuous.

Why is that X’s problem? Why should what I view as an American be up to lawmakers in Australia?

Because X operates in Australia. They need to obey laws in Australia.

They aren't unreasonable laws.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Because X operates in Australia. They need to obey laws in Australia.

But they are obeying the laws in Australia by making the content unviewable for people in Australia.

They aren't unreasonable laws.

Yes they are. Should X be forced to take down images of women in bathing suits because those same images could be deemed illegal in Saudi Arabia? To the people of Saudia Arabia that isn’t an “unreasonable law”

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

JboneInTheZone

Because X operates in Australia. They need to obey laws in Australia.

But they are obeying the laws in Australia by making the content unviewable for people in Australia.

No they aren't. Because they aren't unviewable for people in Australia

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It’s fine to respect work done with the hands, but work done with the mind appears to be of even higher value.

I didn't mean literally work done with his own hands. I mean work he actually did physical and mental. He didn't most of the work either physically or mentally. Why do libertarians weirdly obsess over people like Musk?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Serious question: Can Australian's see video of the Kennedy assassination or is that banned too? What about horror movies? Can anyone enlighten me what is different about the Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel stabbing?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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