Elon Musk’s response to Sydney stabbing footage stokes fury, Australia vows to toughen social media laws

X owner says orders to take down graphic footage of Sydney stabbing attack attempt to censor his social media company

The Australian opposition has thrown its weight behind the government’s proposed misinformation laws in light of the social media response to the violent scenes at two stabbing attacks in Sydney last week.

The government will introduce reworked laws to toughen social media compliance after X owner Elon Musk’s attempts to fight a takedown order of graphic stabbing footage has prompted fury among government and opposition politicians, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported on Sunday.

Six people were killed and 16 injured in two separate stabbing incidents at a shopping center and a church in Sydney last week.

Billionaire Musk on Saturday said that orders to take down graphic footage of the stabbing attacks in Sydney are an attempt by Australia to censor his social media company.

X has since claimed it will remove the content while it challenges the “unlawful and dangerous approach” in court.

Separately, social media platforms have been under scrutiny after a Sydney man was wrongly identified as the Bondi Junction Westfield attacker, in what appeared to be a deliberate misinformation campaign.

Opposition leader Peter Dutton told ABC that “Musk cannot ignore the law.”

“I think there’s a bipartisan position in relation to this, we know that the companies, and we’ve seen some of the comments from Elon Musk overnight, they see themselves as above the law, and Australian law should apply equally in the real world as it does online,” Dutton was quoted as saying.

He said the coalition would be prepared to back the misinformation laws if “they strike the right balance.”

Emergency Management Minister Murray Watt said Musk has “offended” the Australian public, and his response was proof the laws were needed.

“It’s exactly what you’d expect from Elon Musk, he doesn’t think he seems to owe any obligation to any member of the public, and quite frankly I think the public has had a gutful of these narcissistic billionaires who think they are above the law,” Senator Watt told Sky News.

“I think it’s entirely fair we go after them,” he added.

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