Home Elon Musk clashes with Australia, branded an ‘arrogant billionaire’

Elon Musk clashes with Australia, branded an ‘arrogant billionaire’


  • X owner Elon Musk disputes Australian govt over graphic video removal.
  • Australian PM criticizes Musk's stance on social media responsibility.
  • Court orders X to hide videos globally until hearing; Musk pushes back.

In the wake of two tragic stabbing incidents in Australia this month, a row has erupted between X owner Elon Musk and the Australian government over orders to remove graphic videos of the attacks from social media.

The dispute is the latest clash between the 52-year-old billionaire’s company and a national government over content moderation on digital platforms. X is already challenging Brazil in a heated disinformation legal battle.

On April 15, a bishop and priest were stabbed during a livestreamed church service in suburban Sydney, just days after a separate stabbing killed six at a mall. Australia’s eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant quickly ordered social media giants X and Meta to take down the disturbing footage within 24 hours under the country’s Online Safety Act, citing the potential for serious psychological harm.

While Meta reportedly complied swiftly, X pushed back.

How is Elon Musk’s X platform responding?

In an April 19 statement, X’s Global Government Affairs team argued the takedown order exceeded the scope of Australian law and certain posts did not violate the platform’s rules on violent content. X said it would comply in Australia pending a legal challenge, but refused to remove the posts globally despite threats of hefty daily fines.

“Global takedown orders go against the very principles of a free and open internet and threaten free speech everywhere,” the X statement read.

Musk portrayed the fight as an issue of national sovereignty, in a post on X on April 22, he wrote: “Our concern is that if ANY country is allowed to censor content for ALL countries..then what is to stop any country from controlling the entire Internet?”

Australian Prime Minister hits back at ‘arrogant billionaire’

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has been very vocal in criticizing X’s stance and Elon Musk personally. Albanese contends social media companies have a responsibility to stem the spread of distressing content that inflames divisions. “This isn’t about freedom of expression,” Albanese stated. “Surely [applying] a bit of common sense is not too much to ask.”

The Labor Party PM called Musk an “arrogant billionaire” and “egotist” who thinks he is “above the law” for challenging the orders in court. The eSafety Commission argues X’s geoblocking of the content in Australia is insufficient since it can be circumvented with VPNs.

For now, an Australian federal court has ordered X to hide the videos from all global users until a hearing on Wednesday (Apr 24).  But X and Musk remain steadfast in their view the content should not be blocked beyond Australia.

The tit-for-tat continues, with the Tesla and SpaceX CEO, firing back at Albanese on Apr 23, writing: ” No president, prime minister or judge has authority over all of Earth!”

Featured image: Midjourney

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

Sam Shedden
Executive Editor

Sam Shedden is an experienced journalist and editor with over a decade of experience in online news. A seasoned technology writer and content strategist, he has contributed to many UK regional and national publications including The Scotsman, inews.co.uk, nationalworld.com, Edinburgh Evening News, The Daily Record and more. Sam has written and edited content for audiences whose interests include media, technology, AI, start-ups and innovation. He's also produced and set-up email newsletters in numerous specialist topics in previous roles and his work on newsletters saw him nominated as Newsletter Hero Of The Year at the UK's Publisher Newsletter Awards 2023. He…

Get the biggest tech headlines of the day delivered to your inbox

    By signing up, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy. Unsubscribe anytime.

    Tech News

    Explore the latest in tech with our Tech News. We cut through the noise for concise, relevant updates, keeping you informed about the rapidly evolving tech landscape with curated content that separates signal from noise.

    In-Depth Tech Stories

    Explore tech impact in In-Depth Stories. Narrative data journalism offers comprehensive analyses, revealing stories behind data. Understand industry trends for a deeper perspective on tech's intricate relationships with society.

    Expert Reviews

    Empower decisions with Expert Reviews, merging industry expertise and insightful analysis. Delve into tech intricacies, get the best deals, and stay ahead with our trustworthy guide to navigating the ever-changing tech market.