Australia's censorship boss determined to 'stop the spread' of stabbing video

Australian government orders immediate removal of 'distressing videos' of the Sydney church stabbing from social media platforms, sparking free speech outrage.

Australia's censorship boss determined to 'stop the spread' of stabbing video
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Australia's controversial eSafety commissioner, Julie Inman Grant, has directed Facebook’s Meta and X, formerly Twitter, to swiftly take down videos and images depicting the recent stabbing incident at a Sydney church.

The attack, which occurred during a service at the Assyrian Christ the Good Shepherd church in Wakeley, shocked the nation. But now the Australian government has flagged concerns about the 'dissemination of violent content online.'

Talking to Australian media, Inman Grant stressed the urgency of removing such content within 24 hours to prevent its further circulation, raising concerns as Australia's 'world-first' censorship office continues to draw global criticism over its heavy-handed approach to free speech control.

“We expect them to remove this expeditiously within the next 24 hours," she said.

“We know that every minute counts, the more this content is up there the more it is reshared the more velocity and virality continues and we need to stem that” she added.

“We have already just issued a notice to X Corp to use these formal removal powers, we will be issuing notices to Meta today and we have other platforms in our sights as well.

“I would also note that back in March we issued transparency notices around terrorist and violent extremist content to a range of platforms from Google to WhatsApp, Telegram, X Corp, Meta and others.

“For precisely this reason, we knew it was a matter of if but when terrorist and violent extremism would go viral online”.

She claimed 'potential harm' caused by the 'rapid sharing of violent material' and the need to 'curb its spread on social media platforms.'

Meta responded promptly by adding versions of the video to its database to prevent future uploads and collaborating with law enforcement and the eSafety commissioner's office.

Inman Grant warned of possible fines for noncompliance with removal notices and hinted at issuing similar directives to other platforms, such as Elon Musk's X.

Political figures, including Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, expressed concern over the 'harmful impact of circulating violent videos,' particularly on younger individuals.

“We remain concerned about the role of social media, including the publication of videos that can be very harmful, particularly for younger people who have access. Anyone with a phone essentially can do that,” he said.

“We continue to work with the eSafety commissioner and to use what powers are at our disposal to demand that material be taken down. I know the AFP commissioner and the security agencies are engaged in that as well.”

The directive for content removal follows closely after another tragic incident at Bondi Junction Westfield shopping centre. Notices have also been flagged regarding imagery from that stabbing incident.

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  • By Avi Yemini

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