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X launches court challenge of eSafety takedown notices over church stabbing

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X said eSafety does not have the right to “dictate what content [our] users can see globally”. It said the notices were a threat to “ free speech everywhere”.
X will launch a legal challenge to eSafety's takedown notices. Pictured: X owner Elon Musk

X will “robustly challenge” demands by Australia’s eSafety Commissioner to take down videos of the stabbing at a church in Sydney’s western suburbs, in court.

eSafety issued notices to Meta (which owns Instagram and Facebook) and X to remove footage of the stabbing.

X said eSafety does not have the right to “dictate what content [our] users can see globally”. It said the notices were a threat to “ free speech everywhere”.

eSafety’s powers

eSafety works with both domestic and international law enforcement to “remove and restrict” illegal content online.

The watchdog’s takedown powers were legislated in 2021. It’s able to issue warnings to online services, including social media platforms, to remove abusive content online.

The powers were first recommended in response to the live-streaming of the deadly mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2019.

Illegal content

Initial notices warned social media platforms that footage of the stabbing was illegal ‘Class 1 material’ and should be removed immediately.

Class 1 material is content that promotes or incites violence or is likely to cause offence to a reasonable person.

X said it complied with the original order, but plan to launch a legal challenge.

They claim eSafety has asked it to “globally withhold these posts” or face daily fines of up to $AU785,000.

What’s next?

The Government said it’s considering reviving a shelved misinformation bill that would see a crackdown on the spread of lies on social media.

“This isn’t about freedom of expression,” Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said.

“The pain of many people has been exacerbated by what occurred on social media. Social media has a social responsibility.”

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said the Coalition is willing to offer its support, despite previously opposing the bill due to freedom of speech concerns.

X and eSafety will meet in court on Wednesday.

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