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  • Writer's pictureFlow Australia

'Egotistical' Musk slammed over media censorship claims

The government and opposition have rejected Elon Musk's claims an order by the eSafety Commissioner to take down graphic content amounts to censorship.

Elon Musk has been branded an "egotistical billionaire" as he faces a bipartisan push to get his social media platform to take down graphic content.

The federal government and opposition have backed efforts for graphic content - including of a stabbing massacre at a Sydney shopping centre - to be taken down from X, formerly Twitter, raising the likelihood of legislation to address social media abuses.

The company meanwhile has raised concerns about censorship, the jurisdiction of Australian laws and edicts dictating what overseas users can see.

"It beggars belief, doesn't it, that this egotistical billionaire thinks it's more important for him to show whatever he wants on X or Twitter ... for him to have his way than to respect the victims of the crimes," Labor frontbencher Tanya Plibersek told Seven's Sunrise program on Monday.

"And to protect our Australian community from the harmful impact of showing this terrible stuff on social media."

Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones called the social media giant's action "immoral".

"At the moment they're just spooning and being indignant to the lawful request of the eSafety Commissioner and that's not good enough," he said.

"Whether it's X, whether it's Meta, Facebook, they have to understand that they're not a sovereign state."

Senior Liberal frontbencher Simon Birmingham backed the push for stronger action against social media giants to force the take down of harmful content.

The use of social media advanced algorithms and technology to quickly target users meant platforms should be able to "quickly and effectively remove content that is damaging and devastating to the social harmony and fabric of society".

"Particularly images such as terrorist attacks," Senator Birmingham said.

"We should expect that, we should demand it and we will certainly back the government to put in place the types of powers or penalties that make social media companies pay attention."

He also rejected claims about censorship.

It was an "insulting and offensive argument" to say the removal of imagery of a terrorist attack was censorship and it should be left unfiltered for children and others to see, Senator Birmingham said.

"It's a completely ridiculous and preposterous argument," he said.

There was also the potential images could be used to inspire future terrorists, create disharmony and be manipulated for propaganda, he added.

X said it would challenge an order from the eSafety Commissioner to take down content.

The commissioner didn't have the authority to enforce what users could see globally, it said, branding the move an "unlawful and dangerous approach".

Global takedown orders also violated the principle of an open internet and threatened free speech, it added.

On X, Mr Musk branded the eSafety Commissioner the "Australian censorship commissar".

But the company had complied with the commissioner's order to remove certain posts in Australia about the stabbing attack against a bishop pending a legal challenge, it said.

The eSafety Commissioner has urged people not to share graphic images online.

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