Jun 21, 2023 - Technology

Twitter may face fines in Australia over hate speech

Illustration of a pattern of alternating angry emojis and gold verification check marks

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Australia's online safety regulator sent a legal notice to Twitter demanding the social network explain the steps it is taking to combat online hate or risk being slapped with fines.

Why it matters: In the letter, eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said her office has received more complaints about Twitter than any other social network over the last 12 months, with an increased number of reports of serious abuse since Elon Musk took over ownership last October.

Details: The letter gives Twitter 28 days to respond or face fines of Aus $700,000 (about US $475,000).

  • Inman Grant notes that the increase in reports of hate speech comes as the company has both slashed its staff and reinstated thousands of previously banned or suspended accounts, including 75 that had more than 1 million followers.

The big picture: The move comes as European Union officials are in San Francisco this week to conduct a "stress test" to see whether Twitter is equipped to meet its new online safety regulations.

What they're saying: "Twitter appears to have dropped the ball on tackling hate," Inman Grant said in a statement, noting that Twitter accounts for a third of all complaints currently being lodged with her agency.

  • “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.”
  • A Twitter representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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