Australian PM calls Elon Musk an ‘arrogant billionaire’ after X owner says government wants to ‘control the entire Internet’ over stabbing videos | Science & Tech News

Australia’s prime minister said Elon Musk is an “arrogant billionaire who thinks he is above the law” over his reluctance to remove footage of last week’s Church stabbing from X.

In response, Elon Musk thanked him “for informing the public that this platform is the only truthful one”.

The spat comes after a week of legal battles and public arguments between X and the Australian government.

So what’s going on?

Last week, two clerics at Sydney’s Assyrian Christ the Good Shepherd church were stabbed while live streaming a service.

Soon after, videos of the stabbing began circulating on social media. The Australian eSafety commissioner, Julie Inman Grant, issued notices to Meta and X to get them removed.

Bishop among several people stabbed in attack during church service
Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel was stabbed during a livestream of his church service

The videos were classified under Australian law as ‘class 1’ material, depicting gratuitous or offensive violence with a high degree of impact or detail.

Sky News ran some footage of the moments before the stabbing.

When the notice was issued, Meta complied and removed the videos from their platforms. X, however, announced it would challenge it.

X did block the videos in Australia but the government’s eSafety department argued this wasn’t good enough as the posts were still accessible globally.

Debate over ‘control’ of internet

On Monday night, eSafety got a legal injunction requiring X to hide the videos globally but it hasn’t responded to that yet.

Now, Elon Musk has accused the eSafety commissar, whom he previously nicknamed the “censorship commissar”, of wanting to control the internet.

“Our concern is that if ANY country is allowed to censor content for ALL countries, what is to stop any country from controlling the entire Internet?” he posted on X.

Anthony Albanese, the Australian prime minister, weighed in on the row during media rounds.

He told the Australian Broadcasting Company the country would “do what’s necessary to take on this arrogant billionaire who thinks he’s above the law, but also above common decency”.

Anthony Albanese addresses a candlelight vigil at Sydney's Bondi Beach. Pic: AP
Anthony Albanese has called Elon Musk an ‘arrogant billionaire who thinks he is above the law’. Pic: AP

He called Elon Musk “a bloke who has chosen ego and violence over common sense”, in an interview with Sky News Australia.

“Australians will shake their heads when they think this billionaire is willing to go to court, fighting for the right to sow division and to show violent videos which are very distressing,” he said.

‘Road to freedom’

He also confirmed that other platforms had removed the videos.

In response, Mr Musk posted an image showing a ‘road to freedom’ with X at the end.

“Don’t take my word for it, just ask the Australian PM!” he wrote.

What happens if X doesn’t comply?

If X doesn’t comply with eSafety’s injunction, the company can be fined and face legal sanctions.

eSafety also has the power to get links to the content removed from search engines and remove X from app stores but there are no indications this is being considered.