Elon Musk is currently battling government officials in Australia who are trying to force X to remove a video of a man being stabbed last week. An Australian court has ordered the video removed globally rather than just having it geo-blocked in Australia. And while Gizmodo has been extremely critical of Musk’s poor content moderation choices in the past, we have to admit that Musk might have a point this time.

The video at the center of this legal battle was captured during a livestream from Christ the Good Shepherd Church outside Sydney, when a 16-year-old boy stabbed the leader of the church, Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel, on April 15. The video is violent and unpleasant to watch, but not graphic in the sense that any blood can be seen. Major U.S. news outlets like NBC News played the video without any blurring or editing. The 53-year-old Bishop Emmanuel survived the attack and said he forgives the boy who stabbed him.

Australian news outlets also shared images of the stabbing, albeit sometimes with blurring or other times pausing the video before the knife makes contact. But Australia’s eSafety Commission called for the full video to be removed from X all around the world and the Australian court hearing the case has temporarily agreed until a final ruling can be made.

Musk cried “censorship,” and while that’s an incredibly simplistic characterization of the entire ordeal, we’re inclined to agree with him in this case. The problem, of course, comes down to jurisdiction. Does Australia get to dictate what should or should not be allowed for users in other countries?

The Associated Press reports that the footage is being suppressed globally on X, though that doesn’t appear to necessarily be the case. The video is still available on some accounts, and it’s not clear if those videos are an anomaly or if X is just disobeying the court order. X didn’t respond to questions emailed on Tuesday.

Whatever the case, U.S.-based news outlets are still showing the video on other social media sites like YouTube. What if Australia’s eSafety Commission tried to get NBC News clips pulled? How would we feel about it then? For whatever it’s worth, the eSafety Commission told Meta to remove the videos from Facebook and Instagram, which the company did without any resistance.

X argues that Australia shouldn’t get to dictate the spread of information in other countries, even if the content is violent. And that seems reasonable, even if it pains us to admit Musk is right.

“While X respects the right of a country to enforce its laws within its jurisdiction, the eSafety Commissioner does not have the authority to dictate what content X’s users can see globally,” X’s Government Affairs account wrote on April 19.

At the end of the day, these are all judgment calls about what kind of content we want to see on a daily basis. There’s no bright line defining what’s deemed newsworthy and permissible, even before things are complicated by international borders and local laws. Some of these decisions are dictated by the terms of service enacted by companies like YouTube, Facebook, and X. And it seems reasonable to allow each social media site to have its own rules about what’s allowed, with some erring on the side of more censorship while others host more graphic content.

I’ll admit that I hate the choices Musk has made at X ever since he purchased the company back when it was still known as Twitter. I stopped posting there back in August 2023 after more than a decade of being a heavy user simply because I didn’t want to support the cesspool of hate and extremism that it’s become. I still look at it frequently just because there’s still news that pops up from time to time. But many of the tweets on my “For You” page are just snuff videos at this point. It’s unpleasant and if I didn’t have to monitor it for work, I’d stop entirely.

But even though I hate X’s moderation policies, I don’t necessarily think any government should be able to dictate what kind of videos are posted there as long as they’re within accepted legal boundaries. Again, there’s an overwhelming public interest in many of these horrifying videos.

To be clear, Musk’s motivations are far from pure when it comes to “free speech” on X. Musk has been more than willing to censor content at the request of authoritarians in Turkey and India while providing plenty of rationalizations about local laws. But Musk is right to challenge Australia in this case, even if he’s lost support among traditional conservatives in the country. Peter Dutton, the highest-ranking conservative politician in Australia, slammed Musk over the weekend and pointed out X has not been cooperative in combating child sexual abuse material on the platform.

“They’re allowing pedophiles to distribute, through their networks, images and videos of children being sexually abused. They’re impeding the investigations of the police. So, there are many aspects here that we need to deal with,” Dutton told local TV in Australia according to the Australian Financial Review.

Dutton is referring to the bizarre testimony given by an executive at X last summer that perhaps some people who share sex abuse material are doing so because they’re outraged by that content. The shocking testimony didn’t receive much attention in the U.S., but it was a big deal in Australia.

Australia should be governed by its own laws, which means that it’s allowed to choose when people in Australia can and cannot see a given video. But Australia can’t dictate what the rest of the world sees when most other countries consider such violent videos newsworthy. It’s a step too far and while it’s odd to be on the same side as Elon Musk—a hypocrite with very few principles beyond his own self-interest—that’s where we have to land in this case.

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