Australia's cyber regulator has called upon Twitter, which is owned by billionaire Elon Musk, to clarify its approach to addressing online hate speech. The country's online safety commissioner noted that Twitter has received the highest number of complaints among all platforms. Twitter has been given a 28-day deadline to respond to the regulator's inquiries, failure of which could result in potential fines reaching hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Last year, Mr. Musk acquired Twitter for $44 billion (A$64 billion; £34.5 billion) and pledged to safeguard freedom of speech on the platform. The online safety commissioner issued a legal notice to Twitter after one-third of all hate speech complaints received were related to the platform, despite Twitter having fewer users compared to TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram.

Twitter must address the regulator's concerns within 28 days or face penalties of up to A$700,000 (£371,570; $475,300) per day for ongoing violations. "Twitter appears to have neglected its responsibility to combat hate speech," said Julie Inman Grant, the commissioner. She also mentioned reports indicating that the reinstatement of previously banned accounts has emboldened extreme polarizers and purveyors of hate, including neo-Nazis both in Australia and abroad.

This demand from the regulator adds to the ongoing campaign to hold the social media company more accountable. Twitter did not provide a statement regarding the announcement when contacted by the BBC for comment.

Earlier this month, Ella Irwin, the second head of trust and safety under Mr. Musk's ownership, resigned from Twitter. Her predecessor, Yoel Roth, left in November 2022, a month after Mr. Musk assumed control. The head of trust and safety oversees content moderation, a topic that has received increased attention since the ownership change.

Although the reasons for Ms. Irwin's departure have not been publicly disclosed, it occurred shortly after Mr. Musk publicly criticized a content moderation decision made by Twitter. He deemed the decision to limit the visibility of a video due to allegations of misgendering as "a mistake by many people at Twitter." He further stated that not using someone's preferred pronouns, while impolite, does not break any laws.

Subsequently, Linda Yaccarino, former head of advertising at NBCUniversal, took over as Twitter's CEO, replacing Mr. Musk. Ms. Irwin's resignation came a week after the social media platform withdrew from the European Union's voluntary code to combat disinformation.

Since Mr. Musk's acquisition of Twitter, the company has downsized its workforce by approximately 75%, including teams responsible for monitoring abuse, and has made changes to the verification process. Additionally, numerous advertisers have left the platform. In her previous role, Ms. Yaccarino played a significant role in guiding NBCUniversal through the challenges posed by technology companies, revamping advertising sales, and leading industry-wide discussions on data gaps as audiences migrate online.

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