X removed from Australian misinformation’s code following breach

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AFTER neglecting to address a grievance regarding the closure of channels for users to submit false information during the voice-to-parliament referendum, X (formerly Twitter), has been expelled from Australia’s voluntary misinformation and disinformation code.

The disinformation and misinformation independent complaints sub-committee of the industry association, the Digital Industry Group (Digi), declared on Monday 27, November 2023  in a statement that X had ‘committed a serious breach of the code and has refused to cooperate with Digi.’

Early in October, Reset Australia, a platform critic organization, protested to Digi about X withdrawing a feature that had been in existence since 2021 which allows users to submit tweets as misinformation or disinformation for X staff to look into. According to Reset Australia, disabling the feature was against the misinformation code.

The statement highlighted that on November 13, 2023 the sub-committee alongside Digi, Reset, and X were due to convene via Zoom to discuss the complaint. However, a relevant X staff member withdrew from the meeting two hours prior, citing health issues. Although the X corporation said it will submit defense documents, such documents were never sent in.

A list of questions was also forwarded to X, who had until November 21st to reply, however X did not. Since then, X has not replied to multiple attempts from the sub-committee, Digi, or Reset for feedback.

“Refusal to engage in any way with the process was disappointing and irresponsible and X’s signatory status to the code has been removed,” said the Digi sub-committee.

Alice Dawkins, Reset’s executive director, stated in the statement that the news of X’s removal from the code was not cause for celebration.

“It represents a breakdown in engagement; we urgently need legislation in Australia that empowers timely and impactful regulatory action when tech companies fail on their promises,” Dawkins said.

Under the Morrison government, the industry created the voluntary code. The participants, which include Meta, Google, and Microsoft, are obligated to report annually on how they have addressed misinformation and disinformation in addition to requiring mechanisms for consumers to report suspected misinformation and disinformation.

In May 2023, Musk removed X from Europe’s voluntary industry code; nevertheless, in June, he pledged to abide by the Digital Service Act’s disinformation-fighting regulations, which went into force in August 2023. Should it not comply, the corporation faces sanctions equivalent to 6% of its revenue or a complete ban from the EU.

The Australian government said earlier in November 2023 that, in order to allow for revisions, legislation granting the Australian Communications and Media Authority the authority to sanction businesses for violating their misinformation and disinformation policies would not go into effect until early 2024. Along with a campaign against the measure from the Coalition and One Nation, the proposed legislation had encountered substantial opposition from a variety of legal professionals, human rights organizations, and others.

Fact-checker at The FactheckHub | [email protected] | + posts

Seasoned fact-checker and researcher Fatimah Quadri has written numerous fact-checks, explainers, and media literacy pieces for The FactCheckHub in an effort to combat information disorder. She can be reached at sunmibola_q on X or [email protected].

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