back to article X/Twitter booted out of Australia's disinformation-fighting club

Australia's Digital Industry Group (DIGI), the industry association for organizations that invest in online safety, privacy, and cyber security, has decided to withdraw X's place in the voluntary code that oversees efforts to stop the spread of misinformation. X earned the dubious distinction of having its signatory status to …

  1. Sora2566 Bronze badge

    Well, America wasn't going to hold them to account, so I guess I can take pride in even this weak action?

    At least it isn't measured in minutes of profit, given that Xitter is currently operating in the red...

    1. W.S.Gosset

      >currently

      Twitter was always strictly run as a VC-parasite Ponzi scheme. It ALWAYS ran at a prodigious loss, but with near-Enron levels of accounting obfuscation.

      They ran out of VC tolerance.

      Their disobfuscated usage metrics were absolutely catastrophic (even just pulling the bots out left them with almost nothing).

      The financial collapse had already turned exponential.

      They had at most a handful of months before catastrophic implosion, before they managed by legal wrinkle to force the hospital pass to Musk.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      If the Austrailian government gave a shat

      They could block all of the domains associated with Twitter/X. Then, ironically, only Australian Starlink users would be able to see his drek.

  2. hitmouse

    Waiting for Muskspace to be relegated to the /usr/bin/dust of history.

    1. b0llchit Silver badge
      Devil

      They have been executing /usr/bin/false for quite a while. Their only earnings come from /dev/zero and many people send the output to /dev/null. They /usr/bin/make no effort to /usr/bin/sort out their problems and will most likely end up executing /usr/sbin/shutdown sooner than later.

      1. Benegesserict Cumbersomberbatch Silver badge

        So you're saying they're basically /sbin/fscked.

  3. ChoHag Silver badge

    What is it about the internet which means suddenly the politicians are trustworthy?

    They've *always* been liars.

    It's *all* "misinformation".

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      False premise

      Hardly anyone claims politicians have become more trustworthy. (Perhaps some politicians make such a claim about themselves.)

      What we have here is some people (possibly including politicians) giving false information about how to vote. We also have ex-Twitter distributing this false information despite being informed that it is false. Elections are organized according to laws. If there was any doubt, ex-Twitter could ask a lawyer.

      According to words from ex-Twitter's owner, free speech means whatever is legal in each country - even though his actions contradict those words at every opportunity. Australia had better collect those fines quickly - there is a long queue of creditors dragging ex-Twitter through the courts. Not everyone is going to get paid unless the courts decide ex-Twitter=Musk. This is actually a possibility in which case his Tesla and SpaceX shares are up for grabs.

      1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

        Re: False premise

        If the fines are not paid on-time Oz should impose a block on any bank or payment service doing business in Oz doing business with xitter or any of its subsidiaries. The only thing that really counts is the money.

        1. Phones Sheridan Silver badge

          Re: False premise

          At that point it becomes easier for Twitter to close any local Australian offices and simply not have local representation. Hmmm, looks like they already have, so any actions would simply put remaining Australian employees out of a job.

          https://www.smh.com.au/technology/twitter-closing-australian-office-staff-to-work-from-home-20220725-p5b4ce.html

          Fines are not much of a deterrent if you're not around to pay them.

          1. sabroni Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Re: Phones Sheridan

            Like that EVER happened in Keeping up Appearances!

            Sheridan phones home.

          2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

            Re: False premise

            Fines are not much of a deterrent if you're not around to pay them.

            Blocking of any advertiser revenue is the deterrent.

            Blocking the web site might seem a bit far, but they do that for The Pirate Bay and similar who ignore copyright laws, so I don't see why not here. Again, less eyes, less revenue, and shows the world you are prepared to enforce things against those that take the piss.

            1. Phones Sheridan Silver badge

              Re: False premise

              It took about 15 years to block the pirate bay at a country DNS level. I was still accessing it via BT dns servers direct until the end of last year.

              1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

                Re: False premise

                Not an issue. Now that major ISPs have site blocking systems in place, it is only a court order away.

                Yes, there are several ways to circumvent it and probably small ISPs don't support it, but if it blocks 80-90% of typical twits than it has done its job as far as a financial penalty (i.e. loss of advertising opportunity) goes.

                1. Phones Sheridan Silver badge

                  Re: False premise

                  It took 15 years to make the ISPs legally responsible if they resolved the DNS. They did bugger all to TPB, and advertising on TBP sites is well and truly uninterrupted.

            2. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: False premise

              "they do that for The Pirate Bay and similar who ignore copyright laws, so I don't see why not here."

              And you can see how well that works. TPB is still around as well as many other torrent sites and file lockers. Getting a VPN is an obvious work around, but it might be just as easy to use a proxy or TOR.

          3. doublelayer Silver badge

            Re: False premise

            They don't need a local office to be collecting revenue. They have two major sources, both of which are available in Australia. That would be payments for advertising and anyone who subscribes to the various levels of check marks. Those payments, coming from Australians, have to go somewhere, and if they're going to be flouting Australian law, Australian law enforcement can act to confiscate or block those payments. Twitter could simply shut down their entire business in Australia, or they could operate the discussion part without any of the parts that bring in money, but I don't think either is that likely. Of course, people can go around an Australian attempt to confiscate payments, but few would. I think the most likely outcome is Australia not actually doing anything to collect on the ever-growing fines, but if they decided they were willing to go to some effort, they could be successful.

        2. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: False premise

          Also do a “Huawei” and make Musk and executives of ex-Twitter persons of interest and so liable to arrest and extradition if they step outside of the USA…

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: False premise

            Isn't EM an agent of Putin?

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: False premise

              Clearly not. He'd have fallen out of a high level window by now if he was!

        3. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

          Re: False premise

          Or better size the fines from the X customers (advertisers, not meeples) in Australia

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: False premise

        What was the actual false information? Not something you disagree with, not something you don't like, but actual falsehoods. This is something no-one can actually point to.

        Lots of people whining about stuff that goes against their worldview but when you are dealing with frothing at the mouth idealogues like the Yes campaign this is par for the course.

        They are still really butthurt that the Yes vote lost. Their main campaign point seemed to be 'if you vote no you are a racist'. There was very little substance to what the Yes people were going to actually do if they won the vote and that put a lot of people off.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: False premise

          It would have taken you less time to search for the answer than to ask here.

          The AEC *even* publish a register detailing some of the claims made: AEC Disinfo register

          Many of which are, quite clearly, phrased in a way that encourages people to either not vote, or not to trust the outcome of the vote.

          > This is something no-one can actually point to.

          >

          > Lots of people whining about stuff that goes against their worldview

          It's like you're looking in a mirror, innit.

          > There was very little substance to what the Yes people were going to actually do if they won the vote and that put a lot of people off.

          That might also be true, given that it's an entirely distinct topic to whether or not misinformation about the voting process was being spread. You *could* even argue that there was disinformation, but that it was of little relevance because Yes managed to actively put people off all on their own - it doesn't change, though, that the presence of that disinformation needs to be understood and addressed for the next time there's a vote. It shouldn't matter whether you won or lost a shitty stick, at some point someone still needs to think about clearing the shit off the end of it.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: False premise

            Blimey, 14 things. (actually 13 as one was facebook only) However you have to ask what was the actual reach of some of these claims prior to the AEC and the likes of Reset Aus highlighting them? And were these exclusively from the No supporters? Looking at the list I would say they were coming from both sides. Some of them are very much like the claims of BBC bias in the UK. The left claims it is right biased, the right claims it is left biased...

            Instead we now have a 'don't look at the thing I'm pointing at' type response with the very people complaining actually amplifying the thing they are trying to stop. But then I suppose that is the point ;) Inflate the problem, complain and demand a solution thus justifying your existence. We saw this in Aus with the lockdowns. Videos of the police arresting people for posting on social media and then it is all over the news and instead of a few hundred people seeing the original post you now have millions. They should give this effect a name :)

            Given that in Aus voting is mandatory and you get fined for not showing up you are not really in danger of making people stay away or riling up groups so that they will vote en-masse.

            As I said, Yes are mega sore that they lost so are busy having a tantrum and trying to blame everything but themselves. You'd have thought that people would have learned from Brexit and the 2016 US election that insulting your rivals doesn't work well.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: False premise

              Unless I'm greatly mistaken, "Yes" have neither the ability or the authority to kick X our of the disinfo code.

              You asked what the disinformation was, and I provided links. You seem to acknowledge that they're probably genuine.

              From TFA, part of the code requires that users be empowered to report disinformation, and that functionality was absent

              > "recent changes to your user-reporting systems may have left Australian users unable to report electoral misinformation weeks away from a referendum.

              X were then asked to explain themselves, and failed to even attempt to do so. It's not even that they didn't make a cogent argument, they just didn't bother at all.

              Your feelings about Yes, whether justified or not are completely irrelevant to the story we're commenting on. It doesn't matter whether the disinfo came from Yes, No or out of Murdoch's arse - the key bit is that X failed to abide by the code that it was signed up to and so has now been ejected from it.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: False premise

                The code is voluntary. This isn't some govt thing. And X being in or out of it really doesn't amount to much.

                Reset Aus appear to be tightly aligned with Yes and they are the ones who complained. The basis for the complaint being the lack of a specific 'electoral misinformation' option on the reporting system. People can still report tweets. Reset are behaving as if X completely removed the reporting system. I can't see anything in the Australian Code of Practice on Disinformation and Misinformation that requires a specific 'electoral misinformation' option. This article misses out some of the detail from the actual complaint.

                1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

                  Re: Reset Aus appear to be tightly aligned with Yes and they are the ones who complained.

                  Which may be true, but is also entirely irrelevant to the actual meat of the claim, which is X failed to do what they'd agreed to do, then further failed to explain themselves when asked why. Political alignment of the complainant doesn't matter a damn.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: Reset Aus appear to be tightly aligned with Yes and they are the ones who complained.

                    The 'what they agreed to do' is very nebulous in terms of 'Users can easily report offending content', which is not a phrase used in the actual body of the agreement. In fact they change the definition of Outcome 1c in appendix 2, which is where that quoted text came from.

                    If you read the detail, Outcome 1b 5.10 says 'Signatories will implement and publish policies and procedures and appropriate guidelines...' and then Outcome 1c in 5.11 'Signatories will implement and publish policies, procedures and appropriate guidelines that will enable users to report the types of behaviours and content that violates their policies under section 5.10.'

                    So they have to publish policies for what is/isn't appropriate content and then have a policy and process for reporting stuff that isn't.

                    In 5.11 'may specify how users may report a range of impermissible content and behaviours on digital platforms'

                    Very open ended.

                    Only in appendix 2 on what they have to report on does the word 'easily' occur in relation to reporting. And it asks them to report on any changes to how the reporting system works. Nothing appears to say they can't change the reporting system. And it only requires an annual report on updates/changes.

                    As I said, this is political. Twitter/X 'broke' the rules if you look at it sideways and squint really hard.

                  2. LybsterRoy Silver badge

                    Re: Reset Aus appear to be tightly aligned with Yes and they are the ones who complained.

                    If the comment above yours is correct then it looks more like a case of nitpicking to make X look bad.

              2. W.S.Gosset

                Re: False premise

                >that functionality was absent

                A rather interesting lie.

                Doubly-so, since any user could trigger pure-user intervention/fact-checking notices via Community Notes. 2 mechanisms, not 0.

                The real problem was & is: X wasn't immediately jumping to censor one side (and leave the other).

          2. W.S.Gosset

            Re: False premise

            3 of those "misinformation"s are actually correct.

            "Amusing". And a rather revealing glimpse of the actual political nature of this farce.

            Had "misinformation" been strictly applied, the ABC and most major media outlets would have been forcibly shut down during the recent referendum, and action taken against the leading activists. Marcia Langton actually lied to Parliament -- no action taken.

            We are living in extraordinary times.

          3. LybsterRoy Silver badge

            Re: False premise

            -- The AEC *even* publish a register detailing some of the claims made: AEC Disinfo register --

            Just went for a read of that. I almost stopped at the first one but kept on reading. Many of them flagged as disinformation amount to "whilst its possible we don't think it will happen" so not really disinformation more a difference of opinion.

        2. The Central Scrutinizer

          Re: False premise

          You're spreading nonsense too.

          The Yes vote advocates never said anyone who planned to vote no was racist. Peter Dutton played the race card when he repeatedly claimed that a yes vote would "re-racialise the country".

          There was plenty of information about what a yes vote would mean. Clearly you couldn't be bothered to educate yourself about it. I'm guessing you never even read The Uluru Statement From The Heart either. The only people frothing at the mouth were no campaigners and disinformation wankers, who claimed all sorts of garbage would happen if the yes vote got up.

          Do try and provide some facts in future.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: False premise

            Maybe take off the blinkers?

            Marcia Langton is on video calling no voters racist and stupid. But then she has a history of calling any white Australian a racist. And she was not the only one.

            The Aussie media were even saying how the Yes campaign had failed to communicate what The Voice would actually achieve.

            And you're the exact type of smug 'I know better than you' type that helped lose the 2016 US election, Brexit and The Voice.

            1. The Central Scrutinizer

              Re: False premise

              No, Marcia Langton did not say that. You're twisting it up again. Stop shit talking.

              Oh I'm smug? Pot meet kettle. You do post an awful lot of drivel here, don't you?

              Ah you've just called yourself out as a Trumpist. Well done. Is that you Donald?

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: False premise

                Um she did.

                "Every time the No cases raise their arguments, if you start pulling it apart you get down to base racism, I'm sorry to say that's where it lands, or sheer stupidity."

                "The claims made [by] the No campaign are based in racism and stupidity and that's a completely different kind of statement altogether,"

                She can claim whatever she wants. But what she did actually say, on camera, is that the no campaign was based on racism and/or stupidity thusly calling them racist and stupid. She just didn't know she was on camera so thought it was safe to say what she actually thought.

                1. The Central Scrutinizer

                  Re: False premise

                  NO. She did not call No voters racist. She called the No campaign out.

                  https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/sep/12/marcia-langton-denies-criticising-no-voters-and-says-media-is-targeting-her

                  Big difference. Again, get your facts right.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: False premise

                    She wasn't 'calling them out', she was flat out calling them racist and stupid. She said the 'the hard no voters are spewing racism' and that the 'no campaign is appealing to its racist base'.

                    I'd bet you also believe the line that the riots in Dublin were caused by far right misinformation spread on social media.

                    1. The Central Scrutinizer

                      Re: False premise

                      She did not call No voters racist and stupid. Stop spewing shit and do please link to your "evidence".

                      As far as Dublin riots are concerned, WTF? You'r not well, are you?

                      1. Anonymous Coward
                        Anonymous Coward

                        Re: False premise

                        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LfTWxvIioKk&t=76s

                        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LfTWxvIioKk&t=93s

                        She said it.

                        As for Dublin, you do realise that it was The Times that said the attacker was Algerian:

                        "A five-year-old girl who was seriously injured in a knife attack involving a man of French Algerian origin"

                        https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/dublin-stabbing-victim-is-from-migrant-family-3nw0fsppv

                        Newsweek said it as well:

                        "Irish police are questioning an Algerian man"

                        https://www.newsweek.com/ireland-dublin-stabbing-algerian-man-riots-looting-immigration-garda-1846599

                        1. The Central Scrutinizer

                          Re: False premise

                          You'll continue to put your own warped spin on things ad infinitum it seems.

                          Get your head out of the sand and try to think critically for once in your life.

                          You also seem to have racist tendencies. You brought up Ireland and the Algerian angle. What the hell has that got to do with the referendum here in Australia?

                          Seriously.

                          1. Anonymous Coward
                            Anonymous Coward

                            Re: False premise

                            No spin, she said it. Same way it was the media that reported the details on the Dublin attacker.

                2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

                  Re: False premise

                  But what she did actually say, on camera, is that the no campaign was based on racism and/or stupidity thusly calling them racist and stupid.

                  Ooh, slept through critical-thinking class, did you?

    2. nematoad

      Hmm, looks like someone has forgotten to take their dried frog pills again.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      ChoHag: It's *all* "misinformation".

      Anon: that sounds like ChoHag is spreading misinformation.

  4. tip pc Silver badge

    Banner everything everywhere on all media

    It’s not easy to tell who’s lying and who’s telling the truth.

    Every message on every platform should be prefaced with a statement that that message could be false & misleading.

    People seem to have lost the ability to sift through junk themselves but at the same time we should have an expectation that what is being reported to us is the truth, but many times it is not.

    1. Phones Sheridan Silver badge

      Re: Banner everything everywhere on all media

      That would open the person placing the message up to claims of slander and defamation. Who gets to be the arbiter of what is true and what is misleading?

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Banner everything everywhere on all media

        They are already, just that presently it is hard to link the account to a real person and thus press charges, thus the only practical recourse is to report and have such posts taken down.

        Note the “Report Abuse” button in every el reg comment. I think over all the years I’ve been reading El Reg I’ve only used that button once; so whilst we do get heated and take the Michael, it seems it is rare for El Reg commenters to step over the line and make outright abusive and/or defamatory comments.

        [Aside it would be interesting to get some feedback on the actual volume of reported and taken down abusive comments.]

        1. Phones Sheridan Silver badge

          Re: Banner everything everywhere on all media

          There was a time we had the rather entertaining Flame of the Week article, where unmoderated comments were posted in all their flaming glory for all to ridicule. Not seen that for years now.

    2. sabroni Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: People seem to have lost the ability to sift through junk themselves

      Is that what you think, people just can't be arsed with the truth any more?

      Or does 15 years of education cuts mean that critical thinking isn't promoted any more? Surely the government wouldn't deliberately try and keep the populace uneducated just because that makes them easier to manipulate....

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
        Trollface

        Oh, you optimist, you . .

      2. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

        Re: People seem to have lost the ability to sift through junk themselves

        Exactly this. Teach kids to do what they're told and not question what "authority" tells them, for whatever flavour of authority applies at the time. The easiest way to do that is to not teach them to question anything. Makes for nicely manipulable drones in adulthood.

    3. LybsterRoy Silver badge

      Re: Banner everything everywhere on all media

      -- People seem to have lost the ability to sift through junk themselves --

      I think its a little more fundamental than that - many people have forgotten where the ON switch is for their brains.

  5. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    So, Musk is digging the hole ever deeper

    Yeah, don't pay your rent, your fines or anything you think you can avoid, that way you'll be able to cry about injustice and bias in front of the judge sending you to jail.

    Because that is where your casual disregard for everything democratic is going to send you (I hope).

    1. Benegesserict Cumbersomberbatch Silver badge

      Re: So, Musk is digging the hole ever deeper

      Check out Musk's recent comments about governments in South America. His line "We'll coup whoever we want" pretty much sums it up. Free speech might be the altar at which he worships, but democracy, in whichever country, is something he uses to wipe his backside.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So, Musk is digging the hole ever deeper

        'We'll coup whoever we want'

        Isn't that the CIA's motto?

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: So, Musk is digging the hole ever deeper

          I don't think they would use a French word

          1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: So, Musk is digging the hole ever deeper

            EM and the CIA, it is a akin to "2 girls, one coup"...

  6. trevorde Silver badge

    What happened next

    Xitter sues Reset.Tech Australia

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Australia's disinformation-fighting club ?

    Come off it elReg. Three similar stories on the front page. You've really exceeded yourself this time for uncritically regurgitating state produced propaganda. They must be really really desperate to hobble Xitter before the next US Presidential election.

    1. Elongated Muskrat Silver badge

      Re: Australia's disinformation-fighting club ?

      I think Musk has been doing a pretty good job of that himself over the last 12 months, without any assistance from state actors. Twitter always tended towards being a bit of a cesspit, but with the actions Musk has taken, it has evolved into a flaming open sewer full of toxic waste.

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