Australia Drops Legal Fight Against X Over Church Stabbing

Australia has dropped its legal battle to force Elon Musk’s social media platform X to remove graphic footage of a church stabbing in Sydney. The attack on Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel in April, declared a terror incident by police, was live streamed online, sparking riots outside the Christ The Good Shepherd Church in Wakeley.

The independent regulator, eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman-Grant, had threatened X and other social media companies with hefty fines if they did not remove the videos, concerned they could incite further violence. This case was seen as a critical test of Australia’s ability to enforce its online safety rules on social media giants.

The Federal Court temporarily ordered X to hide the videos, but the platform refused to comply, arguing the order was invalid. X eventually blocked access to the video within Australia, but users could bypass this restriction using VPNs

Inman-Grant, who previously worked for Twitter, requested the video’s global removal, prompting Elon Musk to label her a “censorship commissar.” Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese called Musk an “arrogant billionaire” in response.

On Wednesday, Inman-Grant announced that dropping the case was “likely to achieve the most positive outcome for the online safety of all Australians, especially children,” citing “multiple considerations.”

“Our sole goal and focus in issuing our removal notice was to prevent this extremely violent footage from going viral, potentially inciting further violence and inflicting more harm on the Australian community,” she said, affirming her support for the eSafety Commission’s decisions.

In a statement on X, the platform’s Global Government Affairs team expressed relief that “freedom of speech has prevailed,” maintaining that the commission’s orders were “unlawful and dangerous

Global takedown orders go against the very principles of a free and open internet and threaten free speech everywhere,” the statement read. “This was a tragic event and we do not allow people to praise it or call for further violence.”

Inman-Grant previously reported to the ABC that Musk’s attention led to a barrage of abuse from his followers, including death threats and the exposure of her children’s personal information online.

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