Digital Titans Under Fire: Australia Slams X (Formerly Twitter) with Fines Over Child Abuse Content Inquiry

Gather around techies! Australia's eSafety commissioner has slapped X, previously known as Twitter, with a hefty fine of 610,500 Australian dollars (approximately $385,000 USD) for its failure to adequately disclose its measures in combatting child abuse content. In a media release, Commissioner Julie Inman Grant emphasized that X's public declarations regarding their commitment to tackling child sexual exploitation must be substantiated by concrete actions, rather than mere rhetoric.

X now has a tight deadline of less than a month to either pay the fine amount or discuses the matter with the authorities. This fine, though modest considering X's massive financial stature, adds to the mounting criticism the company has faced for its content moderation strategies, especially following its acquisition and transformation by Elon Musk.

Australia invoked the Online Safety Act, established in 2021, to enforce this fine. The legislation mandates online service providers to transparently report their efforts in combating child abuse content on their platforms, with non-compliance leading to civil penalties "and other mechanisms".

"The proliferation of online child sexual exploitation is a growing problem both in Australia and globally", expressed Julie Inman, adding further, "and technology companies have a moral responsibility in protecting children from sexual exploitation and abuse being stored, shared and perpetrated on their services."

Notably, X wasn't the sole tech giant reprimanded by the eSafety office, as they identified significant deficiencies in how these platforms handle child abuse content, including Google, which received a formal warning for delivering vague responses to specific queries. X's situation was more severe as it failed to meet Australia's reporting standards by neglecting to provide crucial information about response times, detection methods, and the size of their safety and public policy workforce.

In December 2022, inside reports revealed that out of approximately 1,600 staff members, only 25 held positions associated with "Trust and Safety" at X, further casting doubts on their commitment to combating child abuse content.

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