Elon Musk mocks Albanese over ‘censorship’ of graphic Sydney stabbing footage

World News

Billionaire X owner Elon Musk has criticised Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in a tweet, suggesting Albanese was perpetuating censorship on X after the prime minister and regulators asked the platform to pull certain videos depicting graphic violence from a stabbing at a Sydney church last week.
Australian Prime minister Anthony Albanese attends a candlelight vigil for the victims of a stabbing attack at the Bondi Junction Westfield shopping centre in Sydney on April 21, 2024. (Photo by Izhar KHAN / AFP) (Photo by IZHAR KHAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Key Takeaways
  • The tweet from Musk depicts X as a platform for free speech and truth while other rival social media platforms are painted as pushing propaganda and censorship, with Musk captioning the post, “Don’t take my word for it, just ask the Australian PM!”
  • Musk’s post continues a back and forth between him and Australian regulators, which began last week after X was ordered by Australian eSafety commissioner Julie Inman Grant to remove posts about the stabbing that contained “gratuitous or offensive violence with a high degree of impact or detail,” or face potential fines.
  • Speaking to ABC News Breakfast on Tuesday morning, Albanese responded saying “we’ll do what’s necessary to take on this arrogant billionaire who thinks he’s above the law, but also above common decency.”
  • said Friday it complied with the order but took issue with the request to remove the posts on a global scale, as opposed to just in Australia, claiming it was asked to pull the posts from all users’ feeds or face a $500,000 daily fine.
  • X’s global affairs page said global takedown orders go against the principles of a free and open internet and added it would be challenging Australia’s order in court.
  • As of Monday, X geo-blocked the posts so Australians cannot see them, still allowing the posts to be seen globally, The Guardian reported, citing Australian barrister for eSafety, Christopher Tran, who said during a hearing Monday that the limited geo-blocking meant X wasn’t complying with the order.
  • The order from Australia’s eSafety agency requested certain posts about the stabbing be removed alongside an interim measure for the posts to be blocked globally, according to The Guardian.
Crucial Quote

Albanese said at a press conference Monday the conflict with X “isn’t about freedom of expression,” but rather, “the dangerous implications that can occur when” falsities are spread.

Forbes Valuation

We estimate Musk’s net worth at $176.4 billion, making him the third-wealthiest person in the world behind Amazon founder Jeff Bezos ($195.9 billion) and LVMH chief Bernard Arnault ($214.4 billion)

Key Background

Musk also faced criticism from other members of the Australian government over X’s non-compliance with the order, with Australian Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek calling Musk “an egotistical billionaire” who thinks it’s more “important for him to show whatever he wants on X…than to respect the victims of the crimes” in an interview Monday.

Australian Agriculture Minister Murray Watt told Sky News on Sunday “the public has had a gutful of these narcissistic billionaires who think they are above the law.”

Musk, who has characterised himself as a “free speech absolutist,” has had a mixed record with free speech on X after he acquired the platform in 2022, when it was known as Twitter.

Months after the acquisition, X suspended accounts belonging to rival social media platform Mastodon, as well as accounts of journalists who reported on the platform’s management.

X suspended the accounts of more journalists early this year, prompting criticism that Musk was silencing critics who conducted reporting on his dealings at X.

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