Australia drops case against Elon Musk’s X over stabbing videos

Australia has stopped trying to get graphic footage of a church stabbing in Sydney taken off Elon Musk‘s social media platform, X.

The attack on Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel in April, declared a terror incident by police, was livestreamed and led to riots outside the Christ The Good Shepherd Church in Wakeley. Australia’s eSafety Commissioner threatened social media companies with big fines if they didn’t remove the videos, fearing they could incite more violence.

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The case was seen as a test of Australia’s ability to enforce online safety rules. The Federal Court ordered X to hide the videos temporarily, but X refused, calling the order invalid. X later blocked access to the video in Australia, but users could still see it with a VPN.

Commissioner Julie Inman-Grant, who once worked for Twitter, wanted the video removed globally. Musk called her a “censorship commissar,” and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese called Musk an “arrogant billionaire.”

Inman-Grant said that dropping the case was the best way to ensure online safety for Australians, especially children. She stated their goal was to stop the violent footage from going viral and causing more harm. Both she and Communication Minister Michelle Rowland stood by the eSafety Commission’s decisions.

X’s Global Government Affairs team said they were glad freedom of speech prevailed, arguing the commission’s orders were unlawful and dangerous. They emphasized that global takedown orders threaten free speech but also noted they don’t allow content that praises violence.

Inman-Grant told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that Musk’s attention led to death threats and her children’s personal information being exposed online.

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