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Musk’s court win over stabbing clip

Written by on May 13, 2024

Social media company X will no longer be forced to hide tweets containing footage from the Wakeley church stabbing globally after the federal court on Monday refused to extend an injunction over dozens of tweets.

In the aftermath of the April 15 alleged terror attack on Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel, X was ordered to remove access to the video for Australian users after the footage was slapped with a Class 1 classification under the Online Safety Act.

The company agreed to “geoblock” the content and reduced its visibility in Australia in the days after the stabbing, but at least 65 instances of the footage have been allowed to remain online, and Australian users can still access the video via a VPN.

X owner Elon Musk threatened to sue in response, but eSafety acted first – winning a temporary injunction to force X to hide the videos on April 22 that the company did not comply with.

Ahead of a final hearing in the case, likely in June, the injunction was due to expire on Monday unless the court extended the court order, but Justice Geoffrey Kennett refused the application.

His reasons will likely be published later on Monday.

In a hearing for the injunction on Friday, X’s barrister Bret Walker SC told the court the wording of the order to hide the tweets was not something X could technically comply with.

Lawyers for the company have argued the video should never have been the subject of a removal notice because it was not overly graphic, did not glorify terrorism, and did not meet the legal threshold for removal under Australian law.

The online watchdog, meanwhile, had been worried the video could be used to radicalise people online.

Tim Begbie KC, representing eSafety, told the court on Friday the material posted online showed ““actual graphic and shocking moments of that attacker (allegedly) repeatedly and violently stabbing” the bishop.

The case returns to court on Wednesday.