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Saturday May 18, 2024

Musk, Australian PM at loggerheads over viral video of violence

By Rafique Mangat
April 25, 2024
Elon Musk (left) and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. — AFP File
Elon Musk (left) and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. — AFP File

KARACHI: The tension between Australia and Elon Musk’s X (Twitter) increased after the removal of video of a violent incident showing Bishop Mar-Marie Emmanuel being stabbed during a liturgy at a Sydney church that was broadcast live on April 15. 

The non-fatal attack, which authorities said was an act of terrorism by suspected religious extremism, sparked riots outside the church.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese called Elon Musk “an arrogant billionaire who is above the law” while Elon Musk criticized the Australian prime minister.

An Australian court ordered the removal of the footage, which Musk called censorship. X blocked the posts for its Australian users, but Australia’s eSafety Commissioner demanded the videos be removed for all X users.

In his affidavit, Bishop wrote that the video of the attack should not be censored. The Australian prime minister said social media companies need to act properly, adding they are willing to take necessary steps to get these companies back on track.

In response to the statement of Australian premier, Elon Musk posted a meme on the platform showing that X stands for freedom of expression and truth while others represent censorship and propaganda. He wrote, “Don’t ask me for that, just ask the Australian Prime Minister.” The platform is the truth.

In another post, Elon Musk said the company is concerned that if any country is allowed to censor all the content across the world, as the Australian e-safety commissioner is demanding, how can any country be prevented from controlling the entire internet?

“We have already censored the content for Australia and a legal appeal is pending,” he said. The content is stored only on US servers. However, the eSafety commissioner argued that the posts were still available outside Australia and could also be viewed by Australian users accessing X via a VPN. Jibbing at Musk, the Australian prime minister replied that his country would do whatever was necessary to deal with an arrogant billionaire who thought he was above the law, but that “we might as well give up decency to do so.” X was asked by the regulator to remove 65 tweets containing the video of the attack, but many of the tweets are still accessible outside Australia. Justice Jeffrey Kennett extended the interim injunction and ordered the posts to be hidden until 5pm on May 10, 2024, when the court will hear the injunction. X’s spokesman said it complies with Australian law, has restricted all relevant content in Australia and is removing any content that glorifies or celebrates the attacks.