/ 18 November 2023

Musk’s X launches court fight with Australian watchdog

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X marks the spot: Elon Musk’s X is in trouble in Australia over abusive content. (Photo illustration by Jonathan Raa/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Australia’s online safety watchdog said on Thursday it was being taken to court by Elon Musk’s X in a fight over the platform’s failure to outline how it combats child sexual abuse content.

Last month, eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant slapped an Aus$610 500 (R7.2 million) fine on X for failing to respond to questions sent in February about how it is tackling the issue on its platform. 

The social media giant missed an extended mid-November deadline to pay the fine, the eSafety Commission said this week, adding that it was “considering further steps”.

Instead, X has taken the case to Australia’s federal court.

“X Corp has lodged proceedings seeking judicial review of decisions of the eSafety Commissioner in this matter,” a spokesperson said.

“eSafety continues to consider its options in relation to X Corp’s non-compliance with the reporting notice but cannot comment on legal proceedings.”

Documents have been filed with the federal court in Melbourne.

When contacted, X responded with an automatic email: “Busy now, please check back later.”

Inman Grant — herself a former Twitter employee — last month urged X to show it was taking “tangible action” to clean up the platform.

“Twitter/X has stated publicly that tackling child sexual exploitation is the number one priority for the company, but it can’t just be empty talk,” she said at the time.

Musk has cut more than 80% of X’s global workforce since his takeover in October last year, including many of the moderators responsible for stamping out abusive content. — AFP