We live in truly unprecedented times. On the internet, you can find videos of anything you can think of. Unfortunately, that includes highly distressing content. Just last week, a church service livestream in Sydney turned graphic when an attacker stabbed Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel. The violent footage was quickly distributed online, including on social media platforms.

Australia’s eSafety commissioner acted swiftly, demanding a takedown of the terrorist content, and platforms complied. Except for X (formerly known as Twitter), whose billionaire owner Elon Musk decided this request would be an occasion to fight for free speech in light of “censorship”.

While X did agree to prevent access to the content in Australia, at an urgent federal court hearing this week the commissioner demanded a full removal, worldwide. But should Australian courts have the right to decide what foreign citizens see online on a foreign-owned platform?

Internet law professor Dan Jerker B. Svantesson from Bond University argues this is a risky proposition – if Australian laws should have such a broad reach, then what about draconian censorship laws from other countries, such as Iran, China or Russia? The internet is a shared resource, and we must be careful that local laws don’t spill over, impacting people in other countries.

However, the violent videos from the Sydney attack are an unusually poor test case for free speech, Svantesson points out. There is simply no value to keeping these videos online, and even the staunchest free speech advocates, such as Musk, can’t credibly object to all censorship.

Signe Dean

Science + Technology Editor

Elon Musk vs Australia: global content take-down orders can harm the internet if adopted widely

Dan Jerker B. Svantesson, Bond University

Using Australian laws to force a foreign-owned platform to take down content globally sets a risky precedent – should we allow all countries to impose their laws on the internet?

The NSW treasurer says a slashed share of GST will cost his state $11.9 billion. But where did he get this figure?

David Hayward, RMIT University

The NSW government wants GST to be allocated according to population. But doing so ignores different service delivery needs between states.

Vastly bigger than the Black Summer: 84 million hectares of northern Australia burned in 2023

Rohan Fisher, Charles Darwin University

The 2023 megafires burnt more than 84 million hectares of desert and savannah in northern Australia. That’s larger than the whole of NSW, or more than three times size of the UK.

Taylor Swift’s The Tortured Poets Department and the art of melodrama

Samuel Murray, University of Liverpool

In the album, Swift claims that she can use heartbreak as a stimulus for creativity, rather than allow it to dictate her everyday life.

Is it possible to ‘objectively’ judge music? We asked 5 experts

Sam Whiting, University of South Australia; Catherine Strong, RMIT University; Charlotte Markowitsch, RMIT University; Laura Glitsos, Edith Cowan University; Timothy McKenry, Australian Catholic University

Everyone has a favourite band, or a favourite composer, or a favourite song. So if we all have our own opinions on music, is it ever possible to judge it objectively?

Can a drug like Ozempic help treat addictions to alcohol, opioids or other substances?

Shalini Arunogiri, Monash University; Leigh Walker, Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health; Roberta Anversa, The University of Melbourne

The animal studies are promising but early research in humans show mixed results. Here’s what we know so far.

Beyond the spin, beyond the handouts, here’s how to get a handle on what’s really happening on budget night

Peter Martin, Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University

The thing to look for is the “fiscal strategy”. For the past quarter-century, it’s provided a surprisingly accurate insight into what each budget is doing.

Many Australians face losing their homes right now. Here’s how the government should help

Chris Wallace, University of Canberra

Next month’s budget is an opportunity for the government to move beyond its ‘I feel your pain’ rhetoric to a HomeKeeper-style policy for this particular group of temporarily squeezed Australians.

We’re only using a fraction of health workers’ skills. This needs to change

Stephen Duckett, The University of Melbourne

We now have a sensible pathway to improve access to health care, using the skills of nurses, pharmacists and GPs appropriately.

Beyoncé and Dolly Parton’s versions of Jolene represent two sides of southern femininity

Kadian Pow, Birmingham City University

A young white southern belle asks a woman not to cheat with her man while an older Black southern queen warns a woman against cheating with her husband.

Elon Musk says ‘disc replacement’ worked for him. But evidence this surgery helps chronic pain is lacking

Giovanni E Ferreira, University of Sydney; Christine Lin, University of Sydney; Christopher Maher, University of Sydney; Ian Harris, UNSW Sydney; Joshua Zadro, University of Sydney

Musk has recommended people experiencing severe neck and back pain should consider disc replacement surgery. Here’s what the research says.

From Gallipoli to Gaza: remembering the Anzacs not as a ‘coming of age’ tale but as a lesson for the future

Olli Hellmann, University of Waikato

The roots of today’s Israel-Palestine crisis can be traced back to colonial power dealings during World War I – of which the Gallipoli campaign and Anzac legend are an integral part.

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