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Australia threatens to fine Musk’s Twitter over rising online hate

Sydney, June 22 (IANS) Australia’s cyber regulator on Thursday issued a legal notice to Elon Musk-run Twitter, seeking information about what the social media giant is doing to tackle online hate on the platform.

If Twitter fails to respond to the notice within 28 days, the company could face maximum financial penalties of nearly $700,000 a day for continuing breaches.

Australian eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said that Twitter’s terms of use and policies currently prohibit hateful conduct on the platform, but rising complaints to eSafety and reports of this content remaining publicly visible on the platform, show that Twitter is not likely to be enforcing its own rules.

“We are seeing a worrying surge in hate online “eSafety research shows that nearly 1 in 5 Australians have experienced some form of online hate,” she said in a statement.

“This level of online abuse is already inexcusably high, but if you’re a First Nations Australian, you are disabled or identify as LGBTIQ+ you experience online hate at double the rate of the rest of the population,” Grant added.

According to eSafety Commissioner, they received more complaints about online hate on Twitter in the past 12 months than any other platform and has received an increasing number of reports of serious online abuse since Musk’s takeover of the company in October, 2022.

The rise in complaints also coincides with a slashing of Twitter’s global workforce from 8,000 employees to 1,500, including in its trust and safety teams, coupled with ending its public policy presence in Australia.

“Twitter appears to have dropped the ball on tackling hate. A third of all complaints about online hate reported to us are now happening on Twitter.

“We are also aware of reports that the reinstatement of some of these previously banned accounts has emboldened extreme polarisers, peddlers of outrage and hate, including neo-Nazis both in Australia and overseas,” she noted.

Last month, US advocacy group GLAAD designated Twitter as the most hateful platform towards the LGBTQ+ community as part of their third annual social media index.

Research by the UK-based Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) demonstrated that slurs against African Americans showed up on Twitter an average of 1,282 times a day before Musk took over the platform. Afterwards, they more than doubled to an average of 3,876 times a day.

The CCDH also found that those paying for a Twitter Blue Check seemed to enjoy a level of impunity when it came to the enforcement of Twitter’s rules governing online hate.

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

Indian Abroad News Desk
Indian Abroad News Desk
Indian Abroad is a news channel and fortnightly newspaper meant for Australia’s Indian community and, besides news, focuses on lifestyle subjects like health, travel, culture, arts, beauty, fashion, entertainment, Bollywood, etc. Our YouTube channel here features daily news bulletins besides infotainment videos on lifestyle subjects.

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