Australia gives Twitter 28 days to sort out ‘toxicity and hate’

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Australia’s internet safety watchdog has given Twitter 28 days to clean up “toxicity and hate” on its platform, threatening to fine the company if it fails to comply.
Twitter has become the subject of one-in-three complaints about online hate speech reported in Australia, according to e-safety commissioner Julie Inman Grant, who used to work for the social media giant.

Inman Grant said Twitter had seen a spike in “toxicity and hate” since Elon Musk bought the platform in October 2022 and slashed more than 80 percent of its global workforce, including many of the content moderators responsible for stamping out abuse.

“Twitter appears to have dropped the ball on tackling hate,” Inman Grant said in a statement on Thursday. “We are far from being alone in our concern about increasing levels of toxicity and hate on Twitter, particularly targeting marginalized communities.”

She said Twitter had failed to respond adequately to her previous letter in November last year, expressing fears that deep staff cuts would leave the company unable to meet Australian laws.

Under the Online Safety Act, which came into effect this month, social media platforms must remove harmful content within 24 hours of receiving a notice from the e-safety commissioner or face fines of up to Aus$ 700,000 (US 475,000) per day.

Inman Grant said she had issued a formal notice to Twitter on Wednesday, giving it 28 days to demonstrate how it would improve its processes and outcomes for dealing with online abuse.

“If Twitter does not comply with this notice, we will consider further enforcement action,” she warned.

Twitter has not commented publicly on the notice, but Musk tweeted on Friday that the company would publish “hate speech impressions” every week and agreed with a tweet that said hate speech spiked last week because of rapper Kanye West’s antisemitic posts.

Australia has spearheaded the global drive to regulate social media platforms and has clashed with Facebook and Google over issues such as news media bargaining and misinformation.

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