Australia’s online safety regulator has fined X (formerly Twitter) over its handling of dangerous online material. The eSafety Commission asked online platforms to explain how they’re monitoring child sexual exploitation and abuse material. X has been given a $610,500 penalty after it failed to respond, while Google has received a formal warning.
New transparency laws in Australia have led to tougher regulations for online platforms.
Last year, eSafety issued legal notices to companies including Apple, Microsoft and Meta (Instagram and Facebook). The notices required these companies to detail what work was being done to detect and address exploitative and abusive content. The responses were published in an online safety report which found “serious shortfalls” in the industry.
Following on from last year’s report, X, Google, and TikTok received similar legal notices in February. The companies’ responses were shared in eSafety’s latest report, which found “similar gaps” in how tech companies are dealing with issues of abuse and exploitation. eSafety singled out X and Google for failing to give adequate detail about how they’re addressing these issues on their platforms.
X left some sections of the request blank and provided inaccurate responses to other questions. The platform was fined over its failure to comply with the transparency request. It has 28 days to pay the fine.
Google provided generic answers to some of the Commissioner’s questions. When the online platform was asked how it responds to illegal child exploitation material reported by users, Google failed to provide a transparent and detailed response.
Julie Inman-Grant, eSafety Commissioner, described the lack of answers from X and Google as “concerning” and suggested the platforms weren’t “living up to their responsibilities and the expectations of the Australian community”.
Lucinda Longcroft, Google’s Director of Government Affairs at Google for Australia and New Zealand, said the platform was “committed” to online safety, and was working “collaboratively” with the eSafety Commissioner, government and industry “on the shared goal of keeping Australians safer online”.
X has not issued a response to the fine.