Elon Musk Labeled 'Arrogant Billionaire' by Australian PM Amid Attack Footage Dispute

Dispute escalates over content control on social media platform.

by Nouman Rasool
Elon Musk Labeled 'Arrogant Billionaire' by Australian PM Amid Attack Footage Dispute
© Kevin Winter/Getty Images

In a heated dispute that has attracted international interests, Australia's Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has referred to the chief executive officer of social media giant X, formerly Twitter, Elon Musk, as an "arrogant billionaire" for his company's failure to comply with the demand to bring down violent content from the said platform.

The criticism is on the heels of a fatal stabbing incident at the Assyrian Christ the Good Shepherd church in Sydney, just declared a terrorist attack by the local police. The controversy began last week when an Australian court mandated that X conceal videos of the distressing incident.

Despite initially agreeing to block the content "pending a legal challenge," X has resisted full compliance, claiming the order exceeds the boundaries of Australian law. The decision to allow access to the footage outside Australia prompted the eSafety Commissioner, an independent regulator, to threaten X and similar platforms with substantial fines.

Albanese Condemns Musk

Prime Minister Albanese, expressing his dismay, emphasized in a press briefing that no entity, including X, should consider itself above the law or basic human decency. His remarks followed a provocative response from Musk, who used his platform to post memes accusing the Australian government of censorship, further intensifying the row.

In a series of defiant tweets, Musk sarcastically thanked Prime Minister Albanese for highlighting X as a bastion of truth and depicted a Wizard of Oz-style path to "freedom" marked with an X logo. Moreover, Musk openly criticized Julie Inman Grant, the eSafety Commissioner, dubbing her an "Australian censorship commissar," which prompted Albanese to come to her defense, underscoring her role in safeguarding Australians.

Albanese stressed the importance of social responsibility in the realm of social media, pointing out Musk's apparent disregard for this duty. As the legal battle unfolds, X faces a temporary injunction that remains in effect until the close of business Wednesday, with a second hearing scheduled shortly thereafter.

The incident raised not only a big question about the balance between freedom of expression and the need for regulation of content on social media but has also put the spotlight back on a global debate: how tech giants should moderate online content.

X's legal battles with the eSafety Commissioner have also put into scrutiny how the platform handles and removes child abuse material—an aspect of wider implications in this ongoing high-voltage tussle.

Elon Musk