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Elon Musk has hit back at Anthony Albanese as the pair continue to spar over the Australian government’s attempt to force the American tech billionaire to remove graphic content from his social media platform X.

X, formerly Twitter, was ordered by the Federal Court late on Monday to block all users from viewing footage related to an alleged terror attack by a 16-year-old boy on an Assyrian bishop during a live-streamed service in a western Sydney church on April 15.

The company said it had temporarily complied with the order in Australia while it fights it in court – but argued a global takedown order violates the principle of free speech – a point which has been hammered home by billionaire Musk. 

A failure to comply with a court’s ruling to remove posts could see X fined almost $800,000 a day and executives be held in contempt of court.

On Tuesday, Musk shared a post stating Mr Albanese had given X free advertising after the prime minister said it was the only social media platform that hadn’t bowed to demands by Australia’s eSafety commissioner.

‘I’d like to take a moment to thank the PM for informing the public that this platform is the only truthful one,’ Mr Musk said.

Elon Musk, Australia’s eSafety Commissioner: X owner takes another swipe at Prime Minister Anthony Albanese over online censorship

Elon Musk has thanked Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese for inadvertently promoting X as a free-speech haven by trying to force the platform to remove violent videos

Mr Musk has been openly mocking Anthony Albanese on his social media platform X

Mr Musk has been openly mocking Anthony Albanese on his social media platform X

‘Our concern is that if ANY country is allowed to censor content for ALL countries, which is what the Australian “eSafety Commissar” is demanding, then what is to stop any country from controlling the entire Internet,’ Mr Musk said.

‘We have already censored the content in question for Australia, pending legal appeal, and it is stored only on servers in the USA.

‘Should the eSafety Commissar (an unelected official) in Australia have authority over all countries on Earth?’

Mr Albanese branded Mr Musk as ‘arrogant’ for defying the demands of eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant – a former Twitter employee – which he said were only enforcing ‘common decency’. 

‘He [Mr Musk] is someone who is totally out of touch with the values that Australian families have,’ Mr Albanese said.

‘He’s putting his ego and putting his dollars towards taking a court case for the right to put more violent content on that will cause distress to people who are on his platform.

‘Other social media operators have accepted the decision of the eSafety Commissioner.

‘Surely social media needs to have some element of social responsibility,’ Mr Albanese said of the eSafety actions. ‘This is essentially a common sense position by the eSafety commissioner.’

‘What the eSafety Commissioner is doing is doing her job to protect the interests of Australians.

‘The idea that someone would go to court for the right to put up violent content on a platform shows how out of touch Mr Musk is.’

‘Social media needs to have social responsibility with it. Mr Musk is not showing any.’

Asked whether the commissioner could be granted stronger powers or if access to X in Australia should be cut, the prime minister said the government was looking at what measures could be taken.

‘No one wants censorship here – what we want, though, is the application of a bit of common sense so you don’t show and propagate violence online,’ Mr Albanese said.

The Opposition has backed tougher laws to crackdown on graphic content being shared online.

While the eSafety Commissioner already had the power to essentially block the social media site in Australia by getting telcos to deny access, it hadn’t shown any signs of going down that path yet, Dr Nicholls said.

Such a block wouldn’t be unprecedented after telcos proactively shut down access to sites that disseminated video of the Christchurch massacre in 2019.

While supporting free speech, Mr Musk was ‘dead wrong’ on the stance about terror content, Liberal frontbencher Simon Birmingham said, while independent senator Jacqui Lambie went further and called him a ‘social media knob’. 

‘He is harmful – what he’s doing to kids out there and what he’s doing to adults and the crap he puts out there on X… has gone far enough,’ she said. 

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