‘Egotistical’ Musk slammed over media censorship claims

Peter Dutton on social media companies

Source: ABC News

Elon Musk has been branded an “egotistical billionaire” as politicians from all sides unite to demand he remove graphic content from X.

The federal government and opposition have found common ground in a push for graphic content – including of the stabbing massacre at Westfield Bondi Junction – to be taken down, raising the likelihood of legislation to address social media abuses.

The company, however, has hit back, raising concerns about censorship, the jurisdiction of Australian laws and edicts dictating what overseas users can see.

“It beggars belief, doesn’t it, that this egotistical billionaire thinks it’s more important for him to show whatever he wants on X or Twitter … for him to have his way than to respect the victims of the crimes,” Labor frontbencher Tanya Plibersek told Seven’s Sunrise program on Monday.

“And to protect our Australian community from the harmful impact of showing this terrible stuff on social media.”

Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones said X was a “factory for trolls and misinformation”, and called its stance “immoral”.

“At the moment they’re just spooning and being indignant to the lawful request of the eSafety Commissioner and that’s not good enough,” he told ABC radio.

“Whether it’s X, whether it’s Meta, Facebook, they have to understand that they’re not a sovereign state.”

Tanya Plibersek on Elon Musk

Source: X

National Disability Insurance Scheme Minister Bill Shorten said X appeared to think it was “above the laws of a nation”.

“It is entirely unexceptional of a nation to say we want to take down some of the most violent and shocking footage, and somehow for them to say we’ve got freedom of speech, but we’re allowed to pollute the metaphorical airwaves with horrible vile and imagery – no one gets to vote for X,” he told the ABC.

“They do vote for governments and governments are accountable. So I do think what the eSafety commissioner has done [is] exactly right. It is about protecting citizens.”

Senior Liberal frontbencher Simon Birmingham backed the push for stronger action to force the takedown of harmful content.

The use by social media of advanced algorithms and technology to quickly target users meant platforms should be able to “quickly and effectively remove content that is damaging and devastating to the social harmony and fabric of society”.

“Particularly images such as terrorist attacks,” Birmingham told ABC TV.

“We should expect that, we should demand it and we will certainly back the government to put in place the types of powers or penalties that make social media companies pay attention.”

He also rejected claims about censorship.

It was “insulting and offensive” to say removing imagery of a terrorist attack was censorship and it should be left unfiltered for children and others to see, Birmingham said.

“It’s a completely ridiculous and preposterous argument,” he said.

There was also the potential images could be used to inspire future terrorists, create disharmony and be manipulated for propaganda, he said.

On Sunday, Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said he would back a stronger push by the Albanese government to force social media companies to remove misinformation.

“What [they] are worried about is the flow-on to other markets if Australia’s laws are upheld, and that’s all the more reasons, I think, for us to take a stance,” he told the ABC TV’s Insiders on Sunday.

“It’s important for us, but for other democracies as well.

“We know that the companies … see themselves [as] above the law and the Australian law should apply equally in the real world as it does online.”

X has said it will challenge an order from the eSafety Commissioner to take down content.

The commissioner had no authority to enforce what users could see globally, it said, branding the move an “unlawful and dangerous approach”. Global takedown orders also violated the principle of an open internet and threatened free speech, it said.

On X, Musk branded the eSafety Commissioner the “Australian censorship commissar”.

But the company had complied with the commissioner’s order to remove certain posts in Australia about the stabbing attack on Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel at the Christ the Good Shepherd Church in south-western Sydney, pending a legal challenge, it said.

The eSafety Commissioner, Julie Inman Grant, has urged people not to share graphic images online.

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-with AAP

Topics: Elon Musk
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