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Will X (Twitter) be banned in Australia?

A recent exchange between Australia’s prime minister and X CEO Elon Musk has left people wondering about the line between free speech and censorship as well as about the platform’s future Down Under. Could it be the end for X in Australia?

Will X (Twitter) be banned in Australia?

How did we get here?

Only days after a heartbreaking Sydney stabbing attack, Australians were rocked again by the news of an Assyrian Orthodox bishop being stabbed during a live-streamed Mass he was conducting on April 15. The footage of the attack went viral, spread via social media platforms (including X) and news channels worldwide.

Julie Inman-Grant, Australia’s eSafety commissioner, had ordered Facebook’s parent company, Meta, and X to remove the footage of the attack from the platforms on the basis of Australia’s Online Safety Act. The request called for removal of “gratuitous or offensive violence with a high degree of impact or detail” with companies facing potential fines if they failed to comply. While Meta confirmed it was taking steps to remove the content, Musk restricted the content only in Australia, leaving it available in other countries. When pressed to remove the footage completely, Musk refused, insisting that the commissioner’s request posed a danger to free speech. As a result, Australia’s government took X to court to try and force the company to remove the footage from the platform completely.

The situation escalated a series of heated tweets between Musk and senior Australian officials, including the country’s prime minister, Anthony Albanese. Frustrated by Musk’s reluctance to comply, Albanese took to X platform to express his disapproval. Some Australian politicians, such as Australia’s eSafety commissioner, took additional steps by deleting their X accounts.

Meanwhile, the two sides continue the war of tweets and insults with the Australian government promising to use “whatever action is necessary” until X agrees to completely remove the footage from the platform. Despite the Australian court having ruled that X needed to comply with the Australian government’s order, the company plans to challenge the motion on the basis of an “unlawful and dangerous approach.”

Will Australia ban X (Twitter)?

The conflict between Musk and the Australian government encouraged the internet users to discuss the possibility of X being banned in Australia. While some speculate that such an option exists, it is impossible to know whether such a scenario could become reality. With both sides focused on the legal battle and online feuds on X, the platform should operate as usual for now.

What’s next?

While both sides gear up for another clash in the court, observers once again are entangled in the perpetual discussion about free speech and its limitations. Musk continues to criticize the Australian government, accusing it of calling for censorship, while the Australian government defends its position, claiming that X’s lack of responsibility allows the spread of violent and disturbing content that can cause dangerous implications worldwide (such as further incitement of violence in religious communities). With both sides demonstrating a ferocious desire to fight for their truth, the conflict has a potential to add new precedents on further social media and free speech regulations.