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Australia PM calls Musk “arrogant billionaire” after court orders X to hide church stabbing posts

Melbourne, Australia

An Australian court has ordered X to hide some posts commenting on the stabbing of a bishop in Sydney, deepening a war of words between the social media platform’s owner Elon Musk and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

Australia’s federal court late on Monday granted the country’s cyber regulator, the eSafety commissioner, a two-day injunction requiring the social media platform to hide some posts on a knife attack last week against an Assyrian church bishop, Mar Mari Emmanuel, during a service at his church.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese gives an address to the Leaders’ Plenary during the 2024 ASEAN-Australia Special Summit at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre in Melbourne, Australia, on 6th March, 2024. PICTURE: Joe Carrett/Pool via Reuters/File photo

Albanese on Tuesday hit out at Musk, calling him an “arrogant billionaire” for pushing back against the Australian government’s calls to take down the content.

X had blocked the content for its users in Australia but said it would not block the posts for users outside the country, arguing that the government had no authority to dictate content its users can see globally.

The regulator had asked X to remove certain posts that publicly commented on the attack, which could include videos.

Judge Geoffrey Kennett, in an after-hours hearing, ordered X to block access to the posts until Wednesday afternoon, court documents showed. The matter will be considered again on Wednesday.

Albanese said social media must have social responsibility but Musk was fighting to keep violent content on his platform.

“We’ll do what’s necessary to take on this arrogant billionaire who thinks he’s above the law, but also above common decency,” Albanese told national broadcaster ABC on Tuesday.

“What the eSafety Commissioner is doing, is doing her job to protect the interests of Australians.”

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Musk had earlier called the eSafety commissioner the “Australian censorship commissar”, drawing rebuke from Albanese who described X’s fight against removing violent content as “extraordinary”.

“I’d like to take a moment to thank the PM for informing the public that this platform is the only truthful one,” Musk said in a post on X hours before Albanese’s comments on Tuesday.

Musk posted an image that appeared to show X stood for “free speech and truth” while other social media platforms were dictated by “censorship and propaganda.”

Police have charged a 16-year-old with a terrorism offence over the attack.


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