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June, 2024

eSafety Commissioner drops case against X Corp over violent content

The eSafety Commissioner has discontinued proceedings in the Federal Court against X Corp regarding the matter of extreme violent material depicting a stabbing incident in Sydney on 15 April 2024.

The Commissioner’s goal in issuing the removal notice was to prevent the violent footage from going viral and potentially inciting further violence. After an initial extension through the Federal Court, Justice Geoffrey Kennett on 13 May denied the eSafety Commissioner’s application to continue the existing order beyond 17 May when it was due to expire.

“Our sole goal and focus in issuing our removal notice was to prevent this extremely violent footage from going viral, potentially inciting further violence and inflicting more harm on the Australian community. I stand by my investigators and the decisions eSafety made,” said the commissioner, Julie Inman Grant.

A key concern raised by the Commissioner was the ease with which children were able to access the violent video on X Corp’s platform. X Corp has previously taken action on content following reports of illegality, including the removal of a compilation video featuring footage of violent incidents upon request from eSafety.

“Indeed, a key issue of concern for me throughout this process, was the ease by which children were able to access this extremely violent stabbing video on X,” the eSafety Commissioner added.

In a transparency guide prepared for the European Commission, X Corp reported taking action on 226,000 items of content and globally deleting 40,000 items of content. Other major social media platforms and search engines complied with eSafety’s requests and removal notices, including Meta, Microsoft, Google, Snap, Tik Tok, Reddit and Telegram.

“For the avoidance of doubt, we strictly adhere to our policies concerning illegal content and we continue to remove illegal content, including terrorist content, from our platform,” said X Corp’s CEO.

eSafety is testing its regulatory powers under Australia’s Online Safety Act to protect Australians from online harm. The Government’s Online Safety Act review is currently open for public submissions, and a select committee inquiry into social media has been announced.

“eSafety remains committed to exercising the full range of provisions available under the Online Safety Act to hold all tech companies to account without fear or favour, ensuring they comply with the laws of Australia and prioritise the safety and wellbeing of all Australians. We will not waver from this commitment,” the eSafety Commissioner concluded.