Twitter Clash with Australian Government Over Removal of Violent Material: Christchurch Call’s Legal Battle With Elon Musk-Owned Platform

Wellington, New Zealand – In the wake of the deadliest terrorist attack in New Zealand’s history, former Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern took a stand against the spread of violent and extremist content on the internet. Ardern’s initiative, the Christchurch Call, has recently been involved in a legal dispute with X, formerly known as Twitter, over the sharing of footage related to a suspected terrorist attack in Sydney, Australia.

The Australian government’s eSafety commissioner, Julie Inman Grant, issued a take-down order to X after footage of a stabbing incident at an Assyrian Orthodox Christian church in Sydney was posted on the platform. Despite X geoblocking the material in Australia, concerns were raised about the accessibility of the videos through VPNs, prompting calls for their worldwide removal.

The Christchurch Call, established in response to the 2019 mosque attacks in Christchurch, aims to combat the dissemination of terrorist and violent content online. With more than 50 countries and several tech companies signed up to its commitments, including Facebook’s Meta, Google, Microsoft, and Twitter (now known as X), the initiative seeks to prevent the upload and spread of extremist material on social media platforms.

However, the recent takeover of Twitter by Elon Musk has brought uncertainty to the platform’s involvement in the Christchurch Call. Musk’s restructuring of Twitter, including mass layoffs and changes in leadership, has left the future of the company’s commitments to the initiative in question. Despite reassurances from Musk to French President Emmanuel Macron, X’s participation in the Christchurch Call remains uncertain.

As challenges to regulate online content persist, countries around the world are grappling with issues of e-safety legislation and content moderation. The case involving X in Australia serves as a test for the enforcement of removal notices and cooperation between tech companies and regulators. With Meta’s compliance demonstrated through the removal of offending material, the response from X has raised concerns and led to legal action.

The evolving landscape of social media platforms and their interactions with regulators highlights the ongoing struggle to ensure online safety and combat the spread of extremist content. As governments and tech companies work together to address these challenges, the effectiveness of initiatives like the Christchurch Call will be crucial in shaping the future of online content moderation and preventing the dissemination of violent material.