back to article Australia secures takedown order for terror videos, which Elon Musk wants to fight

Australia's government has secured a court order requiring Elon Musk's social network, X, to remove all videos depicting a terrorist attack. The incident saw an Australian man attack bishop Mari Emmanuel in Sydney, Australia. The act was live-streamed, as it took place as Emmanuel spoke before his congregation, and appears to …

  1. Khaptain Silver badge

    The Register can't answer that question.....

    Yes you can, it's just that you don't want to appear to agree with Musk. All of us can answer that question without hesitation.

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Yup. Using my new found freedom of expression - Musk, you're a wanker of the highest order.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        heyrick,

        You've got that wrong. Musk is a wanker, but the insult of choice for him is Pedo Guy.

        After all, he successfully argued in court that this is just a generalised insult, and not a specific allegation.

        1. heyrick Silver badge

          "the insult of choice for him is Pedo Guy"

          A guy that runs? ;) Where I'm from, that word is written with an extra letter.

          "just a generalised insult, and not a specific allegation"

          Same with my insult. He might, I don't know and don't care.

      2. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
        Coat

        but you are not allowed to say it on Twitter...

    2. cornetman Silver badge

      > Yes you can, it's just that you don't want to appear to agree with Musk. All of us can answer that question without hesitation.

      Yeah, that was a strange comment. I'm sure that I have seen El Reg deride the USA's penchant for trying to export their laws and mores to other countries around the world, and rightly so. This is not a difficult question.

      Personally, I'm not sure that the justifications given for making legal efforts to remove video evidence of these atrocities are at all warranted. Are we just supposed to take their word for it as what actually happened, with all their politically motivated biases and spin? I would rather have access to first hand accounts, rather than trust our lords and masters to give us anything straight.

      1. jmch Silver badge

        "I would rather have access to first hand accounts, rather than trust our lords and masters to give us anything straight."

        And how many of these "first hand accounts" are also missing significant context (or even purposefully tagged as different context than what it really is, in order to prove some point)? I would rather that everyone online could rub 2 brain cells together and work out for themselves who to trust and what to believe (and certainly, allowing people to post their experiences online, even if it includes graphic violence, is part of that mix)

        1. Khaptain Silver badge

          "And how many of these "first hand accounts" are also missing significant context "

          And how much of the Governmental controlled news is also missing context ? The cat swing both ways.

          I would rather make the judgement for myself, I am not forced to watch a video or read "news" but if I choose to do so then that is my decision and what I do with that information is my responsibility.

          There are no examples where Nanny States have not become dictatorships; all in the name of protecting the people.

          1. jmch Silver badge

            "And how much of the Governmental controlled news is also missing context ? The cat swing both ways."

            Absolutely, and not just 'government' control (note for example the complete absence of coverage of the Cass report by supposedly mainstream but left-leaning sites, or of any number of stories of Trump's BS missing from Fox etc)

            "I would rather make the judgement for myself"

            That's exactly what I said

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            >There are no examples where Nanny States have not become dictatorships;

            There are plenty. I can't really think of a nanny state -> dictatorship example. Well, OK, Singapore. Yup, sux to be Singapore.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Mich as I dislike generalising I find you, Khaptain, are an excellent guide to the morality, ethics and general rightness of a situation.

      All I have to do is take a position which is opposite to yours and I know I'm on the right side of pretty much any conversation.

      1. Khaptain Silver badge

        Please enlighten us with your definition of "the right side ".

        1. sabroni Silver badge

          your definition of "the right side ".

          Whatever Elon thinks it should be today?

        2. Casca Silver badge

          Not the one your on.

          1. Khaptain Silver badge

            Oh I see, you prefer the one where you don't think for yourself.

            1. Casca Silver badge

              Ah, your world only have two sides. Ok...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Posting AC?

        So you can snark without actually putting your name to it?

        What a shitty way to behave.

        1. Dave@Home

          Re: Posting AC?

          "So you can snark without actually putting your name to it?"

          Posted by the AC - roflcopter

      3. LybsterRoy Silver badge

        The was a comment posted before Khaptain's something about brain cells....

    4. DS999 Silver badge

      The problem isn't that Musk isn't wrong in his answer

      Just that he's hypocritical in hiding behind "maximal free speech" to support keeping a video of people being murdered on his site, while he has no qualms about silencing the free speech of others whenever he feels like it.

      If someone posted a video of one of his kids getting beaten up in school, do you really believe he'd leave it up in the name of "maximal free speech"? Hell no, he'd take that down immediately and permaban whoever posted or reposted it. He silenced someone posting publicly available flight information on the flimsy claim that it compromised the safety of his children, as if they're jet setting around on his private plane every other day. The real reason is that like all megalomaniacs, he believes in rules for others but not for himself.

      1. Catkin Silver badge

        Re: The problem isn't that Musk isn't wrong in his answer

        No one is saying otherwise but, equally, none of that gives the Australian government a mandate to push their censorship upon the rest of the world. If ensuring none of their citizens sees said video were so critically important to them, they'd ban unregistered non-corporate VPNs and censor any site that doesn't march to their beat for Australian viewers. However, they will not do this because it is too overt and would constantly remind their citizens of their actions.

        Almost no one with concerns over this cares to actually ensure this video is seen, they simply realise the potential consequences for extra-judicial censorship in squashing dissent and enabling criminal government behaviour.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The problem isn't that Musk isn't wrong in his answer

          I'm not a fan of government censorship however, as with all laws and acts committed by them, some leave a bad taste but are justifiable.

          This is one of them.

          Government has a duty to help keep wider society safe, the number of people who need to see a terrorist attack is generally the number of people who are tasked with analysing the events, tracking and bringing those responsible to justice.

          Outside of that the main reason for posting and spreading that sort of content is to stoke up hatred and division which further encourages more terrorist atrocities.

          1. Joe W Silver badge

            Re: The problem isn't that Musk isn't wrong in his answer

            And what about the rights of the victims? I would say that those do in fact count - and exposing world and dog to their suffering and making money (ok, losing less money) from that is really wrong. Basically by making money from people being murdered you are an accomplice (well... almost).

            Oh, and all of the "yeah, but the gubmint is lying, covering up" crowd also claims the government is incompetent, which I find hilarious - if they are half as incompetent as they claim I cannot see how they cover up things so well.

            1. Catkin Silver badge

              Re: Gubmit incompetence

              Strawman. Governments abusing anti terror laws for their own comfort against legitimate protest and whistle blowing is documented and incompetence in one area does not necessitate incompetence in all areas.

          2. Catkin Silver badge

            Re: The problem isn't that Musk isn't wrong in his answer

            Again, no arguments here. If the Australian government wishes to impose any constitutional decisions upon its citizens, that is its business. However it is not its business to do this to the world. There are plenty of governments who would suppress things we cherish to keep their society "safe".

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: The problem isn't that Musk isn't wrong in his answer

              No arguments here either, but look at it this way. If *insert government name here* can't get content it doesn't like taken down internationally, it's only a matter of time until someone in that government tries to get VPNs regulated. Who knows how *that* will work out?

              1. Catkin Silver badge

                Re: The problem isn't that Musk isn't wrong in his answer

                I think it's a preferable option. Not because that's what I want to happen but because it would keep their efforts in the mind of their electorate, who might have some rather strong opinions about it.

            2. heyrick Silver badge

              Re: The problem isn't that Musk isn't wrong in his answer

              "However it is not its business to do this to the world."

              While I can understand the Australian government's wish to have the videos taken down and the arguments that Australia's jurisdiction ends at its border...

              ...let's not lose track of the sight that Musk is fighting this using the American "anything goes" approach over a video of a terrorist attack.

              What a cunt. This should have been taken down on grounds of decency and a less problematic target chosen.

              1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: The problem isn't that Musk isn't wrong in his answer

                I suspect AU simply escalated after initially sending a polite request for a world wide takedown of the video based on Twitters(X) own rules and guidance and for whatever reason, Twitter(x) refused and then it got into a shouting match.

                At the very least, it's even more bad publicity for Twitter(X) and even more advertisers will abandon then. After all, who wants their adverts shown next to posts of videos of murder or attempted murder. The cess pool that is Twitter(X) just got a lot darker.

      2. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: The problem isn't that Musk isn't wrong in his answer

        If someone posted a video of one of his kids getting beaten up in school, do you really believe he'd leave it up in the name of "maximal free speech"? Hell no, he'd take that down immediately and permaban whoever posted or reposted it.

        Don't you remember the ElonJet bot getting banned? All it did was relay already public data, so much for "maximal free speech".

      3. SundogUK Silver badge

        Re: The problem isn't that Musk isn't wrong in his answer

        No one was murdered. The victim survived.

    5. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Come now Khapitan, you know as well as I do that the best chance Musk has of making money on Twitter now that he's run it into the ground is by appealing to the worst of humanity and hosting snuff videos. This is why he wants to fight it in court, no other reason.

      Well, it'll work until advertisers realise their adverts are appearing next to people getting gunned down.

      1. Khaptain Silver badge

        Dan 55, you know as well as I do that this is the formula for all Social Media platforms. Musk is no exception.

    6. Pete Sdev Bronze badge

      The answer to the question isn't as straightforward as you seem to believe.

      1) Generally, just because something is illegal in one country doesn't make it illegal everywhere. If Iran/Saudi Arabia/wherever bans images of women not wearing a burka, is a provider then compelled to delete such images globally? If you're going to selectively apply laws of one country, its usually the country where the company is based, which in this case is the US.

      2) More specifically to this case, I.e. footage of an attack, you'd imagine most places would have a ban on such so it would be removed for at least for most users. However, context needs to be considered. There could be a legitimate journalistic reason for posting at least part of the footage.

      Loathe to find myself agreeing with Musk but he may have a point regarding jurisdiction (stopped clocks etc.)

      1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

        This has nothing to do with legality. No one is disagreeing that the content is legal, in general at least - I'm not sure about local laws in Australia.

        The problem is sharing the video is the purpose behind an attack - not necessarily the only purposes, but certainly part of it. It's is pretty well established by now that this is a real thing - don't name them, don't show them. Allowing videos of terror attacks to be shared, tells the next potential terrorist that they're going to get their fifteen minutes of infamy.

        That's why so many organisations - not just X, Facebook etc but mainstream media outlets too - agreed to stop distibuting this stuff, as well as take other actions like not naming the perpetrator in their reports. It's nothing to do with free speech or legality, it's that it encourages violence.

      2. TReko

        Be careful what you wish for

        I agree - having a government ministry of truth decide what to censor is stupid.

        Governments bureaucrats are bad, and the one doing this in Australia is an ex-Twitter manager with a bone to pick with Musk.

        They are also biased - In Australia now on mainstream media sites one can already see footage of an Aboriginal being shot by police, of George Floyd being killed. Why is this not censored?

        If the 9/11 attacks were to happen today would they also be taken offline?

        In short don't let the government decide what you can see, they are not impartial and it is probably not for your "own good".

  2. AVR
    Mushroom

    Previous form

    Macron has on at least one other occasion come back from a meeting from a rich and powerful man with unlikely assurances, and had those assurances thoroughly disproven by events. At least this one wasn't cover for launching a war.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "should have" vs "does have"

    Obviously, the commissioner only has the power to fine X in Australia, and since Musk would never pay, all Australia can do is shut down X at some entry points - cannot stop VPN though. However, that might start a trend - once others see it happening they'll get excited and maybe want to put the boot in too - figuratively speaking - it's not actual violence when it's inflicted on a social media company.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: "should have" vs "does have"

      X's assets/offices/staff in Australia are within reach of Australian courts in the event of a contempt determination, as are Australian advertisers doing business with X

      Musk's willingness to toss his Australian staff under a bus to sate his ego would have a salutory effect on X's business model worldwide if there are "consequences" - FAFO writ large

  4. Howard Sway Silver badge

    Musk's loophole

    Musk's statement about freedom of expression is however completely undermined by the fact that his company censors users that post critical content about him, including details of his possible current location. So people defending him because they have swallowed his bullshit about being a free speech absolutist should really stop wasting their time defending his actions on "rights to free speech" grounds, due to him being an absolute hypocrite.

    This is really all about the money - how he makes it by hosting such content, and how desperate he is by doing so, having driven so many people away previously by his own behaviour.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Musk's loophole

      other content Twitter disagrees with is censored as well, with Likes & Retweats softly and suddenly vanishing away, rather like the Guardian newspaper's "Comment Is Free" comments.

  5. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    Would it be so effing hard to take down stuff voluntarily is someone asks nicely, seeing it's a violent act and all?

    Oh, no. X must make it a court case.

    1. Rikki Tikki

      Yeah, it probably would be easier just to take the stuff down voluntarily - and I believe most social media sites have already done so.

      Leaving aside whether Australia is trying to impose its laws on other countries (it isn't, but I'm not going to argue that here), it seems Elon Musk wants to pick a fight - possibly expecting our eSafety Commissioner will back down (hint:she won't):

      "When the Himalayan peasant meets the he-bear in his pride,

      He shouts to scare the monster who will often turn aside.

      But the she-bear thus accosted rends the peasant tooth and nail,

      For the female of the species is more deadly than the male." (Rudyard Kipling - "The Female of the Species")

    2. Bebu Silver badge
      Windows

      Common decency

      "Would it be so effing hard to take down stuff voluntarily is someone asks nicely, seeing it's a violent act and all?"

      No one will ever be a better person for seeing this material. Ever.

      I would wonder how Elon Musk would feel if his wives, consorts, children were amongst the victims and such footage were gratuitously shared over the internet.

      On his non-Special-K days, pretty bloody dreadful I should think and would hope.

      The bedrock of civilization and civil society is unsurprisingly civility which I as recall Kenneth Clark's closing remarks to his landmark Civilization include concern for the feelings of others. He is similarly quoted:

      "I believe that order is better than chaos, creation better than destruction. I prefer gentleness to violence, forgiveness to vendetta. On the whole I think that knowledge is preferable to ignorance, and I am sure that human sympathy is more valuable than ideology."

  6. Nick Stallman

    If we wind the clock back 23 years, wouldn't imagery of the planes hitting the twin towers meet all the same criteria while being a far better example of a terrorist attack?

    Is anyone advocating for the removal of those videos from all online platforms?

    Or is it's value as a record of a significant point in history by keeping it easily accessible?

    1. naive

      Politicians are people who hate mirrors and news outlets they can not censor, since it shows them the uncomfortable truths they themselves created.

  7. Groo The Wanderer Silver badge

    Don't confuse the official "X" policies with Elon's diatribes. Fortunately the lawyers often tell him to STFU and sit down.

    1. aerogems Silver badge

      And then he tells them they're fired and does it anyway.

  8. SundogUK Silver badge

    "...and appears to have been motivated by Emmanuel's positions that saw the obscure Australia cleric become a minor social media personality."

    Really? And not because the attacker was a Muslim nutcase?

  9. Mike 137 Silver badge

    "... including freedom of expression"

    Freedom of expression is not an absolute right, so His Muskiness really doesn't have an argument that will stand up to scrutiny in this case.

  10. aerogems Silver badge
    Devil

    You would think that if there's something virtually everyone agrees should not be allowed on basically any site, it's videos showing non-consensual violence, but then Xitler manages to find a way to be an even bigger asshole just when you think there's no possible way he could sink lower. You have a couple pro (or even amateur) boxers or MMA fighters who agreed to participate, that's one thing. Having one person just come along and attack another without apparent provocation is another entirely.

    But, hey... while I'm not personally condoning or suggesting anyone do this, I guess it means people are free to walk up and beat the shit out of Xitler, film it, and put it up on Xitter and he'll fight any efforts to have it taken down.

    1. Groo The Wanderer Silver badge

      Like most things to do with "freedom", Elon is only supportive of it if someone else is the victim, not him.

  11. Alan Brown Silver badge

    Australian jurisdiction, Australian rules

    Twatter/Ecks has a choice of complying with the judge's orders or ceasing to operate (and ceasing do business with advertisers) in Australia.

    In addition should X defy the order, staff in Australia may find themselves the subjects of a contempt order (along with any execs who may cross its borders).

    Musk is whinging about loss of income, not about his "frea speach"

    1. Diogenes

      Re: Australian jurisdiction, Australian rules

      Twitter geoblocked the video so Australians could not watch it, which is fair, Australia's circus, Australia's monkeys. He is objecting to a world wide takedown order, Aussie law says that the Ministry of Truth can request such an order, but then again according to a former PM Aussie Law also overrides the laws of Mathematics :-)

      I get that people don't like Musk. Try this for a mind exercise - a Russian court ordered a world wide takedown of all videos of the Ukrainian conflict or any video that praise/mentions the Ukrainian President as they are illegal under Russian law. Twitter needs to comply?

      1. Sora2566 Bronze badge

        Re: Australian jurisdiction, Australian rules

        Only if Twitter has offices in Russia or takes money from Russian advertisers, and if so my next question is *WHY*.

      2. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

        Re: Australian jurisdiction, Australian rules

        @Diogenes.

        What is wrong with you that you dare to equate Australia against fuckwits like Russia.

        ???

  12. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

    Is this the same guy who banned some other twitter user from publishing his plane movements ?

    So much for freedom eh.

    The Australian government shoudl issue an international warrant and give him life in prison if he ever sets foot on gods country.

  13. Sherrie Ludwig

    He's too stupid and weak.

    He is stupid and weak, and destroyed ex-Twitter by firing the competent people who could do what he is being asked. Take that tack and see how fast the spoiled narcissist takes to comply. Hasn't anyone dealt with a petulant toddler before? "You're too little to know how to pick up your toys" "Oh yeah?? Watch me!"

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Man puts head up his own arse

    Shouts at clouds.

  15. Caniluna

    Juding by the plethora of low-grade insults about Musk personally rather than the issue itself it nothing useful comes from this discussion.

    Suffice to say that if you can't see the issue is really about free speech and government censorship then you probably don't deserve encryption protection either. Welcome to your future.

    1. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

      Yeh another free speech hero, free speech for pedophiles, wouldnt want to stop them from their freedoms.

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