Saturday, June 15, 2024

Australia may fine Twitter for increased online “Toxicity and Hate”

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Twitter is facing possible fines from Australia’s internet safety watchdog for failing to address online abuse, which has increased following Elon Musk’s involvement with the platform. Electronic safety commissioner Julie Inman Grant, once an employee of Twitter, said the social media platform now accounts for a third of reported complaints about hate speech in Australia.

According to Inman Grant, Twitter has a 28-day period to demonstrate its commitment to address the issue, or else it could be fined AUD 700,000 ($475,000) per day for each day after the deadline. To avoid this penalty, Twitter must provide a clear action plan outlining the specific steps it is taking to prevent hate online and ensure compliance with its own regulations.

“We need accountability from these platforms and action to protect their users. And you can’t have accountability without transparency, and that’s what legal notices like this are designed to do,” Grant said.

Following Elon Musk’s acquisition of the platform in October 2022, it significantly reduced the global workforce by more than 80 per cent, which included a large number of content moderators responsible for combating abusive content. In November, Musk announced a wide-ranging amnesty program, allowing tens of thousands of suspended or banned accounts to regain access to the platform.

“Twitter seems to have dropped the ball in the fight against hate,” said Inman Grant, who worked in cybersecurity at the company after 17 years at Microsoft. Inman Grant noted that the Internet safety watchdog is not the only entity expressing apprehension regarding the increasing levels of toxicity and hate on Twitter, specifically targeting marginalized communities. Additionally, there are numerous accounts of content likely to violate Twitter’s terms of service that remain easily accessible, which is cause for concern.

Australia has taken a leading role in the international effort to regulate social media platforms, and this is not the first instance in which Inman Grant has publicly criticized Twitter. In November, Inman Grant wrote a letter to Musk expressing her concern that significant staff reductions could hamper Twitter’s compliance with Australian law.

In May, renowned Australian journalist Stan Grant filed a complaint on Twitter, citing the ongoing experience of racial abuse he faced while using the platform.This month, major music publishers in the United States launched a legal claim against Twitter, alleging that the platform had failed to effectively prevent widespread copyright infringement. In addition, a European Union commissioner criticized Twitter in June for taking an adversarial approach in withdrawing from a voluntary digital code of conduct.

 

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