Australian safety watchdog fines social platform X $385,000 for not tackling child abuse content

Australia’s online safety regulator announced on Monday that it imposed a fine of 610,500 Australian dollars ($385,000) on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, for its failure to adequately explain its approach to addressing child sexual exploitation content. The eSafety Commission, the world’s first government agency dedicated to online safety, issued legal transparency notices to X and other platforms earlier this year to inquire about their efforts in combatting child sexual exploitation, sexual extortion, and the live streaming of child sexual abuse.

eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant stated that both X and Google did not fully comply with the notices, as they failed to provide satisfactory responses to several questions. X, which was recently rebranded under its new owner Elon Musk, was the worst offender, offering no answers to key questions, including the number of staff on the trust and safety team responsible for preventing harmful and illegal content since Musk’s takeover. Inman Grant expressed frustration, suggesting there may be a degree of defiance.

X has not responded to requests for comment. Elon Musk’s ownership brought significant cost-cutting and layoffs. While X has the option to challenge the fine in the Australian Federal Court, the court could impose a daily fine of up to AU$780,000 ($493,402) since March when the commission initially found X in breach of the transparency notice.

Inman Grant confirmed that the commission would continue to exert pressure on X through notices to enhance its transparency. Additionally, Google received a formal warning for providing generic responses to specific queries, the commission’s statement revealed. Google’s regional director, Lucinda Longcroft, emphasized the company’s commitment to proactively detecting and removing child sexual abuse material, underscoring the importance of protecting children on their platforms.

“Protecting children on our platforms is the most important work we do,” Longcroft stated. “Since our earliest days, we have invested heavily in the industrywide fight to stop the spread of child sexual abuse material.”