Australia slaps AUD$610500 penalty on X for non-disclosure of child abuse content

The Australian eSafety Commissioner slapped a fine of AUD$610,500 on X for not sharing child abuse content information. Google has received a warning.

| Updated on: Oct 16 2023, 13:37 IST
Elon Musk says blocking feature on X ‘makes no sense’ to him
Elon musk
1/7 Elon Musk, the CEO of X (formerly known as Twitter), has tweeted that he wants to eliminate the platform's 'block' feature. Musk made this decision in response to a query from a user, where he sought user opinions on the preference between muting and blocking. (Bloomberg)
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2/7 In a recent post on X (formerly Twitter), Musk clarified that the blocking feature will be discontinued, except for direct messages, while muting will remain an available option. (Bloomberg)
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3/7 On Friday, Musk shared a message, stating, "The 'block' feature is being completely removed, except for its use in direct messages. It simply doesn't make sense," commented the billionaire. (REUTERS)
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4/7 Muting vs. blocking: According to a report by Bloomberg, muting an account will still allow users to avoid seeing posts from that account. However, muted accounts will retain the ability to respond to the user's posts, share them with their own followers, add commentary, and send direct messages. (AFP)
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5/7 User concerns: Blocking, which has long served as a fundamental security measure on X, has raised concerns among users about potential increases in online harassment following its removal. (Pexels)
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6/7 One user reacted to Musk's tweet and replied, "Don’t go there. No one is entitled to other people’s posts. People should be able to block whoever they want". (Pexels)
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7/7 A series of transformations: Some of the significant alterations implemented under Musk's leadership include substantial workforce reductions, replacing the traditional verification program with the $8 per month Twitter Blue subscription, rebranding the company from Twitter to X, and introducing new features such as live streaming. (AP)
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eSafety Commissioner has fined X for non-disclosure on child abuse content and issued a warning to Google. (Pexels)

In a significant move to address child sexual exploitation online, the Australian eSafety Commissioner has levied a fine against X, a prominent microblogging platform backed by Elon Musk. X has been ordered to pay a fine of $610,500 AUD (about $384,000 USD) due to its failure to provide critical information regarding the detection, removal, and prevention of child sexual abuse material. In addition to this, Google has also received a formal warning from the authorities for similar non-disclosure.

A Call for Responsibility in the Digital Age

Julie Inman Grant, the eSafety Commissioner, has underscored the growing issue of child sexual exploitation online in Australia and globally. She emphasised the moral obligation of technology companies to protect children from such abuse on their platforms. Grant has called on organisations to take concrete actions beyond mere public statements, including X, which has declared its commitment to combating child sexual exploitation as a top priority, The New York Times reported.

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Penalties and Warnings Issued

X now has a 28-day window to respond to the eSafety office's warning or pay the imposed fine. Commissioner Grant pointed to a recent study that revealed shortcomings in the approaches of several internet firms, including Apple, Meta, Microsoft, Skype, Snap, WhatsApp, and Omegle, in addressing the issue of child sexual exploitation. The study highlighted inconsistencies in how Twitter (X) and Google are addressing and combating the growth of sexual extortion online.

The eSafety inquiry exposed that both Google and Twitter (X) had disregarded the notices provided to them and had offered insufficient responses to specific queries. Google received a formal warning for its generic responses and data compilation. It was observed that Google was not adequately utilising its technologies to identify known child sexual exploitation content on its platforms.

X faced even more substantial non-compliance charges as various sections of its response were entirely blank, lacking answers to certain critical questions. The corporation's recent acquisition and subsequent employee cuts in October 2022 appeared to hinder its ability to respond effectively to concerns about safety and public policy staffing.

Grant reiterated the need for practical measures to align with business interests in addressing child sexual exploitation. Interestingly, Discord cited cost as a barrier to detecting child sexual exploitation in live streams, setting it apart from platforms like YouTube, TikTok, and Twitch.

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First Published Date: 16 Oct, 13:37 IST