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X fined $610500 in Australia Over Anti-Child Abuse Practices

Twitter, presently rebranded as “X,” has found itself at the center of controversy as it faces fine in Australia. The country’s online safety watchdog, the eSafety Commission, has imposed a fine of $610,500 Australian dollars (approximately $386,000) on the social media platform “X” for its failure to cooperate with a probe into anti-child abuse practices.

Australia Over Anti-Child Abuse Practices

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The fine comes directly following developing worries about the proliferation of child sexual abuse material on various online platforms, and it raises questions about the responsibilities of tech companies in addressing this critical issue.

The story starts with a post made by Elon Musk, the owner of X, last November, where he declared that “removing child exploitation is priority No.1.”

This statement raised expectations that X would take concrete steps to combat the dissemination of child abuse content on its platform. However, the eSafety Commission’s recent actions suggest that X has fallen short of its commitments.

Australia introduced regulations in 2021 that empower the regulator to force internet companies to provide information about their online safety practices.

Failure to comply with these regulations can result in fines, and if the fine remains unpaid, the regulator can take the matter to court.

Twitter’s (X’s) noncompliance has been considered particularly severe by the eSafety Commission, as the company failed to respond adequately to several key questions regarding its approach to addressing child sexual exploitation material.

In particular, X didn’t provide information on 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 live streams, and the tools and technologies it employs to detect child sexual exploitation material.

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One significant factor in this situation is the ownership change and layoffs that occurred at X following Elon Musk’s acquisition of the company for $44 billion in 2022.

It has been revealed that X reduced its workforce by 80% globally and no longer maintains public policy staff in Australia.

This downsizing has raised concerns about the company’s ability to address online safety effectively, particularly in the context of child abuse content.

Moreover, X has confronted criticism for disabling a feature that allowed users to report misinformation about elections.

This move raised further concerns about the company’s commitment to ensuring the accuracy and integrity of information shared on its platform.

It’s essential to take note of that X isn’t the only tech organization confronting examination from Australian regulators in such manner.

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

However, the eSafety Commission found X’s noncompliance to be more serious, as the company left several sections of its response entirely blank and failed to address critical questions.

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This issue stretches beyond Australia. Tech giants and social media companies worldwide have come under increased pressure to combat child sexual exploitation and abuse content on their platforms.

The eSafety Commission’s actions against X reflect a growing global concern and a call for greater accountability from these companies.

X has stated that it uses language analysis technology to detect child sexual exploitation activity, but this technology is not deployed across all its services, and it is only available in 12 languages.

This raises questions about the platform’s ability to identify and prevent abuse content effectively, especially in regions where languages other than those covered by its technology are spoken.

Moreover, the company admitted that its detection of child sexual exploitation material dropped from 90% to 75% in the three months following Elon Musk’s takeover.

Although it claimed to have improved since then, it provided no concrete evidence to support this claim. This decline and subsequent recovery highlight the dynamic nature of the problem and the need for consistent, proactive efforts.

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