Musk’s X says posts of Australia bishop stabbing don’t promote violence

By Thomson Reuters Apr 25, 2024 | 10:08 PM

By Byron Kaye

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Elon Musk’s social media platform X defended publishing posts showing a bishop in Australia being stabbed during a sermon as “part of public discussion”, rejecting a regulator’s order to take down the content on grounds it is offensive and violent.

In a post overnight, X’s “global government affairs” account said the video taken by an “innocent bystander” should not have been banned under Australian law, which “permits content that can be reasonably considered as part of public discussion or debate”.

“The content within the posts does not encourage or provoke violence,” the X account said.

The statement from the company formerly called Twitter, which the billionaire bought in 2022, clashes with Australian lawmaker claims that police feared the footage would be used to encourage people to join terrorist groups.

The e-Safety Commissioner ordered X to remove posts containing the video globally to stop Australians seeing them, but X has challenged the order partly on grounds of “exhorbitant jurisdiction”. A court this week temporarily upheld the takedown order until a hearing on May 10.

The order has sparked increasingly heated public exchanges between Musk, who calls himself a free speech absolutist, and Australian officials including the prime minister and one senator who Musk said should be jailed.

Overnight, Musk shared a series of posts by another user which described the takedown order as part of a World Economic Forum “plot to impose eSafety rules on the world”. “Accurate thread,” Musk wrote to his 181 million followers.

The e-Safety Commissioner was not immediately available for comment.

The dispute follows an April 15 attack on an Assyrian bishop in Sydney, for which a 16-year-old boy has been charged with terrorist offences, according to the authorities.

After raids related to the incident this week, police charged five associates of the youth, also teenagers, with terrorism offences including possessing extremist material.

(Reporting by Byron Kaye; editing by Miral Fahmy)