Australia’s PM criticises Musk’s X over stabbing footage | Social Media

Anthony Albanese says decision to challenge takedown order for content related to church stabbing ‘extraordinary’.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has criticised social media platform X for its “extraordinary” decision to fight an order by the country’s internet watchdog to remove footage of a stabbing during a livestreamed church service.

X, owned by tech entrepreneur Elon Musk, announced over the weekend that it would challenge the order to take down content related to the stabbing of an Assyrian Christian bishop during a service in western Sydney.

ESafety commissioner Julie Inman Grant said last week that X had been issued notices to remove material depicting “gratuitous or offensive violence with a high degree of impact or detail”.

“I find it extraordinary that X chose not to comply and are trying to argue their case. We know, I think overwhelmingly, Australians want misinformation and disinformation to stop,” Albanese said during a news conference.

“This isn’t about freedom of expression, this is about the dangerous implications that can occur when things that are simply not true, that everyone knows is not true, are replicated and weaponised in order to cause division and in this case, to promote negative statements and potentially to just inflame what was a very difficult situation. And social media has a social responsibility.”

On Saturday, X said it had “complied with the directive pending a legal challenge” as it did not believe that the orders were within the scope of Australian law.

“This was a tragic event and we do not allow people to praise it or call for further violence. There is a public conversation happening about the event, on X and across Australia, as is often the case when events of major public concern occur,” the social media company said in a statement.

“While X respects the right of a country to enforce its laws within its jurisdiction, the eSafety Commissioner does not have the authority to dictate what content X’s users can see globally.  We will robustly challenge this unlawful and dangerous approach in court.”

Mar Mari Emmanuel, a prominent conservative leader of the Assyrian Christ The Good Shepherd Church in Wakeley in western Sydney, suffered lacerations to his head when he was attacked last Monday during a mass service that was being broadcast online.

More than 50 police officers were injured and 20 police cars damaged in an ensuing riot outside the church.

Emmanuel, who is recovering in hospital, last week released a message saying he was “doing fine, recovering very quickly” and that he had forgiven his attacker.

On Friday, police charged a 16-year-old with terrorism offences in connection with the stabbing.

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