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Australia Fines X (formerly Twitter) for Ignoring Abuse Inquiries

Australia’s eSafety commissioner imposed a fine of 610,500 Australian dollars (about $380,000 USD) on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, for its failure to adequately disclose information about its efforts to combat child abuse content. The eSafety office issued the fine under Australia’s Online Safety Act, which mandates that online service providers report how they address child abuse content on their platforms, with civil penalties for non-compliance.

X, which now operates under Elon Musk’s ownership, has 28 days to respond to or pay the fine. While the amount is relatively modest for the multibillion-dollar tech platform, it adds to the scrutiny X has faced for its content moderation practices.

The Online Safety Act, introduced in 2021, requires online service providers to report their actions against child abuse content. In February, the eSafety office sent legal memos to X (then Twitter), as well as other tech companies like Google, TikTok, Twitch, and Discord, seeking specific details on how they handle child exploitation content.

According to the eSafety commissioner, X did not adequately answer many of the questions and left some sections entirely blank. The office found serious shortcomings in how child abuse content is policed on the five platforms that received legal notices. Google received a formal warning for providing generic responses to specific questions.

X’s failure to comply with Australia’s reporting standards was deemed more egregious, leading to the imposition of a formal fine. The platform did not furnish information on response times to child abuse reports methods for detecting child sexual exploitation, and the number of safety and public policy employees.

The fine is another blow for X, which has faced criticism for its content moderation practices, especially since its rebranding and acquisition by Elon Musk. The penalties highlight the growing global scrutiny and regulatory actions against major tech platforms regarding their responsibility to address harmful content on their platforms.