X vows to 'robustly challenge' Australia order to remove stabbing posts


  • World
  • Saturday, 20 Apr 2024

FILE PHOTO: Police investigate at the Assyrian Christ The Good Shepherd Church after a knife attack took place during a service the night before, in Wakeley in Sydney, Australia, April 16, 2024. REUTERS/Jaimi Joy/File Photo

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Social media platform X said on Saturday it would challenge in court an order from an Australian regulator demanding the company remove some posts related to the stabbing of a bishop in Sydney.

Police charged a boy, 16, with a terrorism offence on Thursday for the alleged stabbing of Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel at a church in the New South Wales capital on Monday. Footage from the scene showed the boy restrained by the congregation and shouting accusations that Emmanuel had insulted Islam.

X's Global Government Affairs posted on Saturday that the Australian eSafety Commissioner had ordered it "to remove certain posts in Australia that publicly commented on the recent attack against a Christian Bishop".

The regulator demanded that X "withhold" the posts or face a daily fine of A$785,000 ($500,000), the company said, without giving details of the posts at issue.

It said, "X believes that eSafety’s order was not within the scope of Australian law and we complied with the directive pending a legal challenge.

"The eSafety Commissioner does not have the authority to dictate what content X’s users can see globally," X said. "We will robustly challenge this unlawful and dangerous approach in court."

Asked about X's comments, an agency spokesperson cited an eSafety Commissioner statement that it was working to ensure X's compliance with Australian law.

"We are considering whether further regulatory action is warranted," the regulator said.

The regulator, a government body that works to remove harmful online content, sent legal letters in March to social media platforms including X, demanding information about their efforts to stamp out terrorism content.

The bearded Emmanuel, bishop at the Assyrian Christ The Good Shepherd Church, is a social media star with followers around the world but also a divisive preacher. He has made fiery criticisms of homosexuality, COVID vaccinations, Islam and U.S. President Joe Biden's election.

($1 = 1.5584 Australian dollars)

(Reporting by Sam McKeith in Sydney; Editing by William Mallard)

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