26 September 2023

Twitter slammed over new hate rises

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Australia’s eSafety Commissioner is demanding answers from Twitter on what the social media giant is doing to tackle online hate on its platform.

The Commissioner, Julie Inman Grant has issued a legal notice to Twitter after her office received more complaints about online hate on Twitter in the past 12 months than any other platform.

She said the complaints have risen since multi-billionaire Elon Musk’s takeover of the company in October, 2022.

“The rise in complaints also coincides with a slashing of Twitter’s global workforce from 8,000 employees to 1,500 including in its trust and safety teams, coupled with ending its public policy presence in Australia,” Ms Inman Grant said.

“This is at the same time a ‘general amnesty’ was announced by Mr Musk in November, which reportedly saw 62,000 banned or suspended users reinstated to the platform, including 75 accounts with over one million followers.”

Ms Inman Grant said Twitter’s terms of use and policies currently prohibited hateful conduct on the platform, but rising complaints to eSafety and reports of this content remaining publicly visible on the platform, showed that Twitter was not likely to be enforcing its own rules.

“eSafety research shows that nearly one in five Australians have experienced some form of online hate,” Ms Inman Grant said.

“This level of online abuse is already inexcusably high, but if you’re a First Nations Australian, you are disabled or identify as LGBTIQ+, you experience online hate at double the rate of the rest of the population.”

She said a third of all complaints about online hate reported to eSafety were now happening on Twitter.

“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,” the eSafety Commissioner said.

“If Twitter fails to respond to the most recent notice within 28 days, the company could face maximum financial penalties of nearly $700,000 a day for continuing breaches.”

Individuals who felt they had been targeted online can report to the Commission on this PS News link.

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