‘Serious breach’: social media platform X booted from Australia’s misinformation code

X [formerly know as Twitter] has been kicked out of Australia’s voluntary misinformation and disinformation code, after failing to respond to a complaint about shutting down channels for users to report misinformation, during the voice to parliament referendum.

The industry association, the Digital Industry Group (Digi), announced on Monday that its disinformation and misinformation independent complaints subcommittee found X had “committed a serious breach of the code and has refused to cooperate with Digi”.

Related: Australia fined X $610,500. But will Elon Musk’s company pay up?

Platforms critic group Reset Australia had complained to Digi in early October about X removing a function that had been in place since 2021, allowing users to report tweets as misinformation or disinformation for investigation by X staff. Reset Australia argued that removing the function represented a breach of the misinformation code.

The subcommittee, Digi, Reset and X were scheduled to meet over Zoom about the complaint on 13 November, but the relevant X staff member pulled out two hours before the meeting, citing ill health. The company promised to lodge documents in its defence, but those documents were never submitted.

X was also sent a list of questions to respond to by 21 November, but did not respond.

The subcommittee, Digi and Reset have all attempted to contact X since then, but X has not responded.

The subcommittee said the “refusal to engage in any way with the process was disappointing and irresponsible” and X’s signatory status to the code has been removed.

The executive director of Reset, Alice Dawkins, said X’s removal from the code wasn’t news to celebrate.

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

Related: Neil Young boycotts X over antisemitic Elon Musk tweet

The voluntary code was developed by the sector under the Morrison government. In addition to requiring tools for people to report suspected misinformation and disinformation, the participants including Meta, Google and Microsoft, are required to report annually on how they’ve tackled misinformation and disinformation.

Musk pulled X out of Europe’s own voluntary industry code in May, but in June promised to comply with Digital Service Act rules that came into effect in August on tackling disinformation. The company has been threatened with fines amounting to 6% of turnover, or a total ban in the EU if it fails to comply.

The Australian government announced earlier this month that it would delay legislation to empower the Australian Communications and Media Authority to fine companies for failing to comply with their policies around misinformation and disinformation until early next year to allow for changes. The draft legislation had faced strong pushback from a range of legal experts, human rights groups and others, as well as a campaign from the Coalition and One Nation against the bill.

The director of research and policy at Reset, Dr Rys Farthing, said X’s removal shows the voluntary code has failed and Australia should follow the EU’s Digital Services Act.

X was contacted for comment.