Australia’s eSafety Commission has imposed a fine of $385,000 on social media platform X for its failure to adequately explain its approach to addressing child sexual exploitation content. The commission, which aims to ensure online safety, issued legal transparency notices earlier this year to X and other platforms, seeking information on their efforts to combat the proliferation of child sexual exploitation, sexual extortion, and livestreaming of child sexual abuse.
According to eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant, both X and Google did not comply with the notices, as they failed to provide satisfactory responses to several questions. X, in particular, was found to be the worst offender, as it did not provide any answers to certain inquiries, including the number of staff dedicated to preventing harmful and illegal content since Elon Musk took over the platform. Inman Grant expressed her belief that there was a sense of defiance from X, stating that basic human resources systems or payroll records would reveal the number of employees on each team.
X has not yet responded to the fine. However, the company has the option to challenge it in the Australian Federal Court. If the court upholds the fine, X could face a penalty of up to AU$780,000 ($493,402) per day since March, when the commission first found the platform to be non-compliant with the transparency notice. The eSafety Commission intends to continue pressuring X through further notices to improve transparency.
In addition to the fine imposed on X, the commission issued a formal warning to Google for providing generic responses to specific questions. Google’s regional director, Lucinda Longcroft, stated that the company has developed various technologies to proactively detect, remove, and report child sexual abuse material. Longcroft emphasized that protecting children on their platforms is their most important work and that they have invested significantly in the industry-wide fight against the spread of such content.