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X to fight Australian watchdog over stabbing content

Health Minister Mark Butler has taken aim at Elon Musk's social media platform X.

Health Minister Mark Butler has taken aim at Elon Musk's social media platform X. Photo: AAP/Getty/TND

The federal government says it “won’t be bullied” by Elon Musk’s social media platform X which has refused to remove posts relating to the Wakeley church stabbing.

Australia’s eSafety Commissioner has ordered X to remove some posts that commented on the alleged terror attack.

But X pledged on Saturday to fight what it called an “unlawful and dangerous” directive that would impact free speech around the world.

X’s Global Government Affairs team said the posts did not violate X’s rules on violent speech.

The platform claimed it had been threatened with a daily fine of $785,000 if it did not comply with the order to remove the posts globally.

“X believes that eSafety’s order was not within the scope of Australian law and we complied with the directive pending a legal challenge,” posted X on Saturday.

“While X respects the right of a country to enforce its laws within its jurisdiction, the eSafety Commissioner does not have the authority to dictate what content X’s users can see globally.

“We will robustly challenge this unlawful and dangerous approach in court.”

The commissioner has only said it was considering whether further regulatory action was warranted, after it put social media platforms on notice to remove graphic content showing recent violence in Sydney.

Federal Health Minister Mark Butler said the government would take X to task if it wanted to pursue the matter in court.

“Australia is not going to be bullied by Elon Musk, or any other tech billionaire, in our commitment to making sure that social media is a safe space,” Butler told reporters in Adelaide.

“So if he wants to fight that fine in court, well, we’re up for that fight.”

Calls have grown for harsher sanctions for social media platforms in the wake of the April 13 shopping centre massacre at Bondi after distressing footage of the attack was uploaded online and misinformation spread.

NSW Premier Chris Minns said X had shown “disregard for the information that they pump into our communities”.

“Then when things go wrong, throwing their hands up in the air to say that they’re not prepared to do anything about it,” he told reporters.

The premier and other leaders met with Assyrian community groups after the church stabbing and they collectively condemned violence.

“If anyone acts in that way, they are doing it in complete defiance of the religious leadership of NSW and it is against the law,” Mr Minns said.

A 16-year-old boy was charged with terrorism offences over the church stabbing and is next due to face court in June.

On Saturday, a third person was charged over the riot outside the church — a 28-year-old man who was arrested at a home in Horningsea Park Road, Horningsea Park.

On Friday evening, 45-year-old Sam Haddad was arrested at a Fairfield Heights home and charged with rioting and threatening violence, causing fear.

Haddad fronted Parramatta Bail Court on Saturday and was granted bail on the condition he report to police every day and live at a specific address.

He is next due before Fairfield Local Court on Wednesday.

A 28-year-old man was also charged over the incident and was due to face court on Saturday.

Police hope high-visibility patrols in the region will curb conflict after the knife-wielding teenager allegedly struck Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel, 53, who was delivering a sermon on Monday night.

The stabbing – which has since been declared an act of terrorism – triggered a riot outside the Christ the Good Shepherd Church in Wakeley, leaving dozens of police officers injured.

The lawyer of the boy charged over the stabbing told a court the teenager had received intermittent treatment for his mental health for years.

-with AAP

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