Australia fines X for failing to crack down on child abuse content

October 16, 2023  -BBC News –Australia internet safety watchdog has slapped a A$610,500 ($386,000; £317,360) fine on Elon Musk’s X for failing to cooperate with a probe into anti-child abuse practices.

It comes after Mr Musk in a post last November said that “removing child exploitation is priority #1”.

The eSafety Commission criticised the firm’s “empty talk” on the issue.

Insiders had earlier told the BBC they would not be able to protect users from trolling following mass lay-offs at X.

X, also known as Twitter, has seen a continuous revenue decline since Mr Musk bought it for $44bn last year.

Under Australian laws that took effect in 2021, the regulator can force internet companies to give information about their online safety practices or face a fine. If the fine is not paid, the regulator can pursue the company in court.

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Alphabet’s Google was also issued a warning for noncompliance with its request for information about handling of child abuse content.

But X’s noncompliance was more serious, with the regulator saying the company failed to “provide any response to some questions, leaving some sections entirely blank”.

It added that: “Twitter/X did not respond to a number of key questions including the time it takes the platform to respond to reports of child sexual exploitation; the measures it has in place to detect child sexual exploitation in livestreams; and the tools and technologies it uses to detect child sexual exploitation material”.

The company confirmed to the regulator that it had cut 80% of its workforce globally and has no public policy staff in Australia, compared to two before Mr Musk’s takeover.

Last month, X was criticised by Australian researchers for disabling a feature that allowed users to report misinformation about elections.

The move has fuelled concern as it came ahead of a key Australia referendum which took place over the weekend to give Indigenous people more rights.

The BBC has approached X for comment.

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