Australia’s eSafety Commissioner announced on Thursday that it has issued a legal notice to social media company Twitter, demanding it to explain what it’s doing to combat online hate on its platform. The cyber regulator has given 28 days to the Elon Musk-owned company to respond to the notice, saying that it could receive fines of approximately $700,000 per day after the deadline.
In a press release, the regulator said that they have received a growing number of reports of ‘’serious online abuse’’ on Twitter since the social media company was acquired by Musk for $44 billion last October.
It said that it has received more complaints about online hate on Twitter in the last 12 months than any other social media platform, despite Twitter having relatively fewer users in the country.
“Twitter appears to have dropped the ball on tackling hate,’’ said eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant, who previously worked for Twitter. ‘’A third of all complaints about online hate reported to us are now happening on Twitter,’’ she said.
The regulator highlighted that the surge in Twitter-related complaints coincides with the mass layoffs at the company, which also impacted its trust and safety teams.
Elon Musk announced a general amnesty for suspended accounts in late November, nearly a month after the acquisition was completed. The regulator said that the move reportedly resulted in the reinstatement of 62,000 banned and suspended accounts, including 75 profiles which have more than 1 million followers each.
“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,’’ said Inman Grant.
“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,” she added.
The news comes just days after Twitter was sued by a group of music publishers for $250 million over copyright infringement.