Big Tech social media platforms like Google and X (formerly known as Twitter) are facilitating the spread of misinformation and child abuse materials, Australia’s eSafety Commissioner, Julie Inman Grant, said at the SXSW festival on Monday (15 Oct).

Australia’s online safety regulator, eSafety, accused Google of not blocking links to known child sexual exploitation material, despite the availability of databases from expert organisations like the UK-based Internet Watch Foundation.

The regulator issued a survey to Google, TikTok, Discord, Twitch and X in February investigating what measures the sites had in place to handle cyber crimes involving children.

eSafety issued a warning to Google for only providing generic information across multiple services while X was issued an infringement notice of AU$610,500 (US$385,000) for failing to provide any response. X allegedly left blank responses to questions about responding to child exploitation reports.

“When it comes to the protection of children online, the Australian community expects all tech companies to do more,” Commissioner Grant said in a statement.

In August, the UK’s National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children recorded a staggering 82% increase in the number of online child grooming cases in the last five years. 

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Its research suggests that out of almost 34,000 grooming incidents reported to the UK’s police, around 74% of reported incidents involved Snapchat and Meta.