Elon Musk’s X dodges Australian order to remove church stabbing video

Elon Musk’s X dodges Australian order to remove church stabbing video

An Australian federal court sided with Elon Musk on Monday, rejecting an Australian safety regulator’s request to extend a temporary order blocking a terrorist attack video from spreading on Musk’s platform X (formerly Twitter).

The video showed a teen stabbing an Assyrian bishop, Mar Mari Emmanuel—whose popular, sometimes controversial TikTok sermons often garner millions of views—during a church livestream that rapidly spread online.

Police later determined it was a religiously motivated terrorist act after linking the 16-year-old charged in the stabbing to a group of seven teens “accused of following a violent extremist ideology in raids across Sydney,” AP News reported. Bishop Emmanuel has since reassured his followers that he recovered quickly and forgave the teen, Al Jazeera reported.

In April, Australia’s eSafety Commissioner, Julie Inman Grant, had cited Australia’s Online Safety Act and asked X to remove 65 posts showing footage from the attack, Reuters reported, but X refused to remove the posts.

X owner Elon Musk said that Australia could not expect to enforce its safety law globally, accusing Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese of attempting to have “jurisdiction over all of Earth.”

“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?” Musk wrote on X.

Instead of removing the posts, X geo-blocked anyone in Australia from viewing the footage. Australia’s safety regulator considered this inadequate because roughly 25 percent of Australians use virtual private networks to mask their locations online.

It also appeared unclear if X’s geo-blocking was working as intended. A Reuters journalist in Australia reported that the video remained accessible without a VPN. And on a thread where some Redditors defended Musk for bucking the order, some agreed that X’s attempt at geo-blocking appeared futile.

In his ruling Monday, Federal Court Judge Geoffrey Kennett did not explain why he denied the safety regulator’s request to extend the temporary order. On Wednesday, there will be a case management hearing that could shed light on his decision. A final hearing on the matter is expected in the coming weeks, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC News) reported.

While X has notched a win today, there could be fines on the horizon. For failing to comply with the order, X risks fines under the Online Safety Act, as well as potentially contempt of court fines.

And it wouldn’t be the first time X was fined for violating the law. Last year, X became the first platform fined under the safety law and was required to pay about $386,000 after failing to cooperate with the regulator’s anti-child abuse probe on the platform, The New York Times reported.

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