‘Social media has social responsibility’: Anthony Albanese blasts Elon Musk over violent videos

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Katina Curtis
The Nightly
Anthony Albanese says social media must recognise it has a social responsibility too and billionaire owner Elon Musk is wrong to argue orders to remove violent videos impinge on freedom of expression.
Anthony Albanese says social media must recognise it has a social responsibility too and billionaire owner Elon Musk is wrong to argue orders to remove violent videos impinge on freedom of expression. Credit: Jenny Evans/Getty Images

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says social media must recognise it has a social responsibility too and billionaire owner Elon Musk is wrong to argue orders to remove violent videos impinge on freedom of expression.

eSafety commissioner Julie Inman Grant last week ordered a range of social media and messaging platforms to remove videos of the attack on a Christian Assyrian bishop in a Sydney church, which was declared a terrorist incident, and the stabbings in the Bondi Junction shopping centre where six people were killed.

Mr Musk and his company X, formerly Twitter, pushed back, saying the content did not breach its rules around violent speech and that it would challenge the laws in court.

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The eccentric billionaire labelled Ms Inman Grant “the Australian censorship commissar”.

Mr Albanese said while most companies had responded appropriately to the commissioner’s request, X chose not to.

“I find it extraordinary that X chose not to comply and are trying to argue their case,” he said on Monday.

“This isn’t about freedom of expression. This is about the dangerous implications that can occur when things that are simply not true, that everyone knows are not true, are replicated and weaponised in order to cause division and, in this case, to promote negative statements and potentially to just inflame what was a very difficult situation.

“Social media has a social responsibility.”

Mr Albanese said people’s pain after the “senseless act of violence” at Bondi had been exacerbated by social media broadcasting the violent images.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers said it was clear Mr Musk should comply with Australian laws.

“Australians should be filthy about the way that Elon Musk is behaving in this respect,” he said.

“I think all of us are concerned, in one way or another, about the capacity for social media to spread misinformation and disinformation. And as the owner of one of the main platforms, he should care about that too.”

Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones indicated the Government would defend its laws in court and if the existing powers for the commissioner were not sufficient, it would seek to strengthen them.

The Government is preparing to bring legislation to Parliament that would create a mandatory code of practice on misinformation and disinformation.

At the moment, the code is voluntary and the industry body that oversees it kicked Twitter out last year because it did not have sufficient mechanisms for people to report breaches.

The Coalition last raised serious concerns about the first draft of the new laws, running a “ban the bill” campaign, but Opposition Leader Peter Dutton indicated on Sunday it was now open to supporting the plan provided it struck the right balance for freedom of political speech.

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