Musk decision to leave knife attack video on X prompts police terror warning, says Australian senator

Court upholds regulator order for the billionaire to take down posts containing footage of the April 15 stabbing of the Assyrian bishop

By Reuters

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Police stand outside the Assyrian Christ The Good Shepherd Church after a knife attack that took place during a service the night before in Wakeley in Sydney, Australia, on April 16, 2024. — Reuters
Police stand outside the Assyrian Christ The Good Shepherd Church after a knife attack that took place during a service the night before in Wakeley in Sydney, Australia, on April 16, 2024. — Reuters

Published: Wed 24 Apr 2024, 1:45 PM

Last updated: Wed 24 Apr 2024, 1:46 PM

An Australian senator said on Wednesday that police feared Elon Musk's decision to ignore a regulator order and leave footage on his social media platform X of a Sydney bishop being stabbed might encourage people to join terrorist groups.

An Australian court has upheld a regulator order for the billionaire to take down posts containing footage of the April 15 stabbing of the Assyrian bishop during a service.


Senator Jacqui Lambie said that by keeping the violent posts online globally the Australian Federal Police (AFP) had told the federal court Musk's platform X created a risk that "the video could be used to encourage people in Australia to join a terrorist organisation or undertake a terrorist act".

Musk "should put his big boy pants on and do the right thing, but he won't because he has no social conscience", Lambie said in her social media posts.


The AFP declined to comment.

Musk overnight escalated his fight over the court order to remove the video post, saying Lambie should be jailed and suggested the country's gun laws were meant to stop resistance against its "fascist government".

Australia's e-Safety Commissioner had told X to remove footage of the stabbing, which police say was religiously-motivated and over which they have charged a 16-year-old boy with a terrorism offence.

After X challenged the order, the federal court told the platform formerly called Twitter to remove the footage temporarily.

X has said it will fight the order and at another court hearing on Wednesday the company's lawyer said the bishop who was attacked had supplied a statement that he wanted the footage kept online.

The conflict has sparked heated exchanges between Musk and senior Australian officials including the prime minister, the e-Safety Commissioner and Lambie, an independent senator from the small island state of Tasmania.

When an unnamed X user posted overnight that it was Lambie who "should be in jail for censoring free speech on X", Musk replied to his 181 million followers, "Absolutely. She is an enemy of the people of Australia".

Musk widened his attacks on Australia, including promoting a post from an unnamed but verified X user which said the country "disarmed all of their citizens in 1996 so that they cannot resist their fascist government", a reference to a gun buy-back and registration scheme after the country's worst mass shooting.

Musk responded with an exclamation mark.

Home Affairs Minster Clare O'Neill said social media companies created "civil division, social unrest ... and we're not seeing a skerrick of responsibility taken".

"Instead, we're seeing megalomaniacs like Elon Musk going to court to fight for the right to show alleged terrorist content on his platform," she added.

X and Musk have said they complied with the temporary takedown order by blocking it for Australians, but that they would appeal it. The footage remained visible on X in Australia on Wednesday.

At Wednesday's hearing to decide whether the order should be permanent, a lawyer for the e-Safety Commissioner said X appeared to have failed to comply with the temporary order but "the consequences of any non-compliance are for another day".

A lawyer for X said the global takedown order involved "exorbitant jurisdiction".

The federal court judge, Geoffrey Kennett, extended the temporary takedown order until another hearing on May 10.


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