Julie Inman Grant, the eSafety Director for the Australian government, announced a fine against social media company X today for failing to adequately fight against child abuse on its platform.
The penalty was a relatively small slap on the wrist amounting to $610,500 AUD ($386,000 USD) but these fines will get larger if the company fails to respond.
But regardless, it is a bad look for a company that continues to serve as a platform that is increasingly soured by negative and even illegal posts.
The fine was entirely avoidable and related to the company’s inadequate response to the Australian government’s request for the information.
According to Grant’s post, “Twitter/X failed to provide any response, leaving some boxes entirely blank. In other instances, Twitter provided a response that was otherwise incomplete or inaccurate.”
Grant praised Meta, whose platforms include Instagram, What’s App, and Facebook, and collectively was responsible for 27M reports of child exploitation and abuse in 2022.
This was contrasted with other tech companies, including Apple, whose platforms only accounted for 234 reports of child exploitation and abuse.
But X was specifically called out for its lack of willingness to work with the government and hence was the only company so far to receive a fine.
This follows the opening of an investigation by the EU into X’s failure to delete accounts spreading pro-Hamas propaganda in the wake of the terror attacks in Israel.
In both cases, according to X’s own rules, child sexual exploitation as well as perpetrators of violent attacks are listed as reasons for expulsion from the platform.
If no one enforces the rules, then X really doesn’t have rules – or at least has made itself the arbiter of what is considered child abuse and which groups should be considered terrorists.