December 11, 2023

An Australian regular recently hit Elon Musk X Platform (formerly Twitter) with a fine of $610,500 (worth $386,000). The penalty on the social media platform was due to its failure to cooperate in an investigation regarding anti-child abuse activities.

The regulatory slam comes amid several complaints about X’s tolerance of moderating content. Moreover, the company needs help to captivate advertisers to remain profitable in the industry.

X Hit With Fine For Breaching Child Sexual Exploitation Rules

The Australian e-Safety Commission penalized X, Elon Musk’s social media platform recently rebranded from Twitter. The regulator stated that the company failed to answer questions in investigations regarding possible breaches of anti-child abuse standards.

Also, the probe demands the platform’s methods for detecting such reports. The penalty comes as a reputational hit on the X platform despite its inconsequential value compared to Musk’s acquisition price of $44 billion.

Also, the company has been in turmoil with constant declining revenue. Notably, many advertisers abandoned the X platform as it allegedly stopped many content moderations and even restored thousands of previously banned accounts.

Earlier this year, the e-Safety Commission’s report on anti-child standards featured some huge companies like Google, X, TikTok, Discord, and Twitch. The commission noted that some big tech firms don’t comply with rules regarding the proliferation of child sexual exploitation.

The commission demands that online service providers report how they met any or all of the requirements according to the e-Safety Act. Reacting to the situation, Julie Inman Grant, e-Safety commissioner, mentioned the growing reports of child sexual exploitation in Australia and globally.

She noted that it has become crucial to understand not just the scope of the issue but its scale. Grant mentioned that a company would only fail to cooperate with such an investigation if it had no answers to the demanded questions. 

Further, the e-Safety commissioner maintained,

This was about the worst harm, child sexual exploitation and extortion. She noted that the regulation aims to ensure companies have relevant trust and safety measures to protect people from harmful content.  

In addition, Commissioner Grant reiterated that the companies have a fundamental responsibility to ensure their platforms remain safe for the hundreds of millions of users. 

X Could Face Bigger Fine For Non-Compliance

The e-Saftey commissioner said the regulator would charge X to court if it refused to pay the fine within the stated period. X now has about 28 days to comply and pay the fine.

According to Grant, depending on the court’s decision, X could face a more significant fine, up to $780,000 daily for non-compliance since March.

Musk noted that

removing child exploitation is a priority #1” following his platform acquisition. However, the social media platform seems far from its proposed activities.

The Australian regulator had requested from X the method it uses in preventing child grooming on its platform. But X stated it was “not a service used by large numbers of young people.

Additionally, X reported that “the current anti-grooming technology is not of sufficient capacity or accuracy to be deployed on Twitter.”

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