Australia Threatens To Fine X ‘Billions of Dollars’ if They Don’t Censor ‘Hate Speech’ on Platform

Australia has threatened social media giant X with billions of dollars of fines if the platform doesn’t censor content the Australian government deems to be ‘hate speech.’

The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) has ruled that the company can be held accountable for every instance of so-called “hate speech” published on its platform. This authoritarian decision came in response to a complaint lodged by the Australian Muslim Advocacy Network (AMAN) in July 2022. AMAN accused X of permitting a “far-right conspiracy group” to post hateful and denigrating comments about Muslims. reports: Social media companies like X have traditionally argued that they are not responsible for content on their platforms that originates outside the jurisdictions where they do business. However, this ruling ignores that notion, suggesting the platform is responsible for the speech of its users.

Despite AMAN’s requests, X refused to remove or block the offending posts under Queensland’s Anti-Discrimination Act. Elon Musk, the owner of X, argued that his company should be exempt from these laws due to its US-based operations.

Rita Jabri Markwell, AMAN’s legal advisor, countered this defense, asserting that X profits from local markets and communities in Australia by collecting data and selling advertisements. She believes this ruling could set a precedent in other jurisdictions, challenging the long-held legal protections social media companies have relied upon. She emphasized the broader implications, saying, “This could become a precedent that will carry weight in other jurisdictions, whether it’s at the federal level or under other vilification laws.”

The QCAT decision follows a dispute between Australia’s online safety regulator and X over the platform’s refusal to remove video footage of a stabbing incident involving Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel in April, which was live-streamed. In Australia, X hid 65 tweets containing the video rather than complying with a takedown order. Although eSafety commissioner Julie Inman won an interim order in the Federal Court, the ban was not made permanent.

AMAN is also awaiting a separate ruling on whether X breached the law by failing to remove or hide the alleged hate speech. Additionally, AMAN has a legal complaint against Meta and Facebook Australia pending before the Human Rights Commission. Meta, like X, has argued against the applicability of Australian law, particularly in the context of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, maintaining that it is not subject to local jurisdiction.

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