Elon Musk’s X takes legal action against Australia for demanding removal of Canadian man’s tweet over ‘misgendering’

Apr 1, 2024 | Political News

Social media platform X has announced that it will be initiating legal action against the Australian government after a contentious demand from the country's E-Safety Commissioner to remove a post from its platform.

The dispute arose when Chris Elston, also known as “Billboard Chris,” received a notice from Australia's eSafety Commissioner requesting the removal of a post. Elston, a Canadian resident, had made comments referring to a transgender-identifying Australian activist by their biological pronouns, along with other critics.

The activist in question, Teddy Cook, identifies as a man despite being biologically female and has been an advocate for taxpayer-funded transgender surgeries in Australia. Despite being appointed to a World Health Organization expert panel, Cook has made several shocking posts on social media. According to the Daily Mail, Cook’s now-private social media was filled with content such as public nudity, bondage parties, trans orgies, and bestiality.

Despite this, the Australian eSafety Commissioner turned its focus on Elston, deeming his post as “deliberately degrading” in a letter. 

“An ordinary reasonable person in the position of the Complainant would regard the Material as being offensive,” the letter said. 

But Elston refused to take down the post, arguing against what he perceived as assumptions made by the Australian government regarding his intentions.

“I do not hold that woman in contempt for her transgender identity, because I maintain that gender identities do not exist,” Elston stated.

The order by the Australian government also threatened X with a fine of nearly $800,000 if the platform did not remove the post within 24 hours. In response, X opted to geo-block the post in Australia. However, this action was circumvented when the post was simply reshared in a different format.

In light of these developments, X has taken a decisive step by announcing its lawsuit against the Australian government to safeguard its users' right to free speech. 

“Earlier this week, X was ordered by the Australian E-Safety Commissioner, subject to an approximately $800,000 AUD fine, to remove a user's post. The post had criticized an individual appointed by the World Health Organization to serve as an expert on transgender issues,” X’s Global Government Affairs account posted on Friday.

“X is withholding the post in Australia in compliance with the order but intends to file a legal challenge to the order to protect its user's right to free speech,” the company added. 

Since Elon Musk’s takeover of X, formerly known as Twitter, the billionaire has been an outspoken advocate for free speech on the platform. This legal battle underscores the current debate surrounding freedom of expression on social media platforms and the extent to which governments have the ability to regulate online content.