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Australia’s Communications Minister Threatens X With “Big Trouble” if It Doesn’t Censor “Misinformation”

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Australia’s authorities are once again putting pressure on social media, X this time, threatening that the company will face big fines and “big trouble” in general – unless “mis- and dis-” information is censored.

And, it is Australia’s new laws, when they come into force this year, that will represent the legal grounds for such actions.

The fines would run up to $3 million or 2 percent of annual turnover for “voluntary code of conduct” violations, and $7.8 million or 5 percent of annual turnover in case of lack of compliance with the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) “standards.”

This transpires from an article published by the Financial Review, citing Communications Minister Michelle Rowland, while the motive behind her last crusade is described as “a litany of issues” now allegedly plaguing X.

Rowland went all over the place to accuse X of “not doing enough” – from Taylor Swift deep fakes, to what’s likely a key point of contention – the platform’s decision to reinstate some 6,000 accounts of users previously banned by Twitter.

The thinking here seems to be that if the threat is made ahead of time, X will “align” better with Australia’s politics and agree to once again plunge itself into mass censorship.

The laws Rowland mentioned were drafted in 2023 with the aim of giving broader powers to the Australian Communications and Media Authority, specifically “to combat mis- and disinformation online,” the article said.

The upcoming legislation seeks to produce two effects – the tech industry subjecting itself to a formally voluntary code of conduct, and after this “carrot” comes the stick in the shape of the ACMA’s new powers, fines and punishment, if ACMA’s unhappy with how the code is adhered to.

Rowland added that X at this time “isn’t even covered by a voluntary industry code.” The reason is that X was removed from the code after it stopped the practice of flagging content running against (Twitter’s) “civic integrity policy.”

Elsewhere in Australia’s media scene, some are asking why the country’s government “hates Elon Musk.”

“It is about $300 million that Musk owes the Australian government so far,” wondered Sky News host James Macpherson. And by “owes” – he meant, the fines Australia has tried collecting from X even before the latest threats.

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