Elon Musk‘s social media platform X has been fined Australia $610,500 (US $386,000) by an Australian regulator for failing to assist with an investigation into anti-child abuse practices.
A setback for a corporation that has struggled to retain advertisers amid allegations that it is becoming too lenient when it comes to content moderation.
E-Safety Commission of Australia Penalized X Platform
The e-Safety Commission penalized Musk’s rebranded Twitter platform, X, for failing to respond to questions such as how long it took to respond to allegations of child abuse content on the network and the methods it used to detect it.
Though minor in comparison to Musk’s $44 billion payment for the website in October 2022, the charge is a reputational blow for a corporation that has witnessed a steady decrease in revenue as advertisers quit spending on a platform that has suspended most content control and reinstated thousands of banned accounts.
The EU recently announced that it was examining X for possible violations of its new tech laws after the platform was accused of failing to control disinformation in relation to Hamas’s attack on Israel.
“If you’ve got answers to questions, if you’re actually putting people, processes and technology in place to tackle illegal content at scale, and globally, and if it’s your stated priority, it’s pretty easy to say,” Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said in an interview.
“The only reason I can see to fail to answer important questions about illegal content and conduct happening on platforms would be if you don’t have answers,” added Inman Grant, who was a public policy director for X until 2016.
X Dissolved it’s Australian Office
After Musk’s purchase, X dissolved its Australian office, so there was no local representation to react to international media.
A request for comment addressed to the company’s media email address in San Francisco was not immediately responded to.
The regulator can require internet businesses to provide information about their online safety policies under Australian legislation that go into effect in 2021, or face a fine. Grant stated that if X refuses to pay the fine, the regulator may take the firm to court.
Australia Issued Warning to Google
According to Inman Grant, the commission also issued a warning to Alphabet’s (GOOGL.O) Google for failing to comply with its request for information on the processing of child abuse content, calling the search engine giant’s responses to several inquiries “generic.” Google stated that it has worked with regulators and was disappointed by the warning.
According to the regulator, X’s noncompliance was more serious, including failure to respond to questions on how long it took to respond to reports of child abuse, procedures it took to detect child abuse in livestreams, and its numbers of content moderation, safety, and public policy workers.
The corporation admitted to the regulator that it has reduced its global employment by 80% and now had no public policy workers in Australia, down from two before Musk’s takeover.
After Musk took the company private, X notified the regulator that its proactive detection of child abuse content in public forums had stopped.
According to the regulator, the company told the regulator that it did not employ techniques to detect the material in private communications because “the technology is still in development.”
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