SYDNEY: An Australian regulator has fined Elon Musk’s social media platform X A$610,500 ($386,000) for failing to cooperate with a probe into anti-child abuse practices, a blow to a company that has struggled to keep advertisers amid complaints it is going soft on moderating content.
The e-Safety Commission fined X, the platform Musk rebranded from Twitter, saying it failed to respond to questions including how long it took to respond to reports of child abuse material on the platform and the methods it used to detect it.
Though small compared to the $44 billion Musk paid for the website in October 2022, the fine is a reputational hit for a company that has seen a continuous revenue decline as advertisers cut spending on a platform that has stopped most content moderation and reinstated thousands of banned accounts. Most recently the EU said it was investigating X for potential violation of its new tech rules after the platform was accused of failing to rein in disinformation in relation to Hamas’s raid 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. Under Australian laws that took effect in 2021, the regulator can compel internet
companies to give information about their online safety practices or face a fine.
Published in Dawn, October 16th, 2023