Australia’s eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant has been forced to clarify that tweeting the commissioner does not qualify as a formal Online Safety Act request, just in case you were wondering.
The controversial and heavily scrutinised Online Safety Act passed through Parliament last month, which means Inman Grant is now set to receive a plethora of new powers in early 2022 that give her an extreme amount of control on a personal level.
Under the act, the commissioner has the power to remove websites from search engines, rapidly block sites that show violence and/or terrorist material and remove online abuse, among other things.
The official eSafety Office account took to Twitter on Thursday to confirm that “tagging @eSafetyOffice @tweetinjules is not treated as an official report.
— eSafety Office (@eSafetyOffice) July 1, 2021
The clarification comes after Inman Grant replied to a question on Twitter earlier this week offering advice on how to deal with trolling.
@D_Melissa2 Have you reported him to @TwitterSafety through the reporting queue & blocked or muted him? Don’t let his noise deter you – that is purely his intent. Use the conversation controls too. If he is threatening you or causing serious harm, you can report informally 2 us!
— Julie Inman Grant (@tweetinjules) June 30, 2021
The eSafety Commissioner later confirmed to Gizmodo Australia that she will provide standard advice on Twitter including, but not limited to, asking them to lodge a formal complaint.
“Part of eSafety’s role is to provide education, support and advice. We frequently offer information to those in distress – including offering advice about using the reporting tools available on the platforms,” Inman Grant said in a statement to Gizmodo Australia.
“If we are tweeted at by a person in distress, we will provide our standard advice, including encouraging people to report an issue to the platform in the first instance. This information is also available on the eSafety website, and advice that Twitter provides through its safety centre. Tweeting at us does not constitute a report that enlivens our powers.”
An eSafety spokesperson later confirmed to ZDNet that Inman Grant’s comments on Twitter doesn’t relate to her powers (which are yet to be formally introduced) as it was not a formal request.
“In this case, the eSafety Commissioner was tweeted at by a person in distress, and the Commissioner provided our standard advice, including encouraging people to report an issue to the platform in the first instance,” the spokesperson told ZDNet.
“This information is also available on the eSafety website, and advice that Twitter provides through its safety centre. This advice did not involve use of the Commissioner’s powers, as tweeting at us (as described above) does not constitute a report that enlivens our powers.”
Basically, eSafety reserves the right to offer informal help on social media, especially in the lead up to the additional powers being rolled out.
“Part of eSafety’s role is to provide education, support, and advice. We frequently offer information to those in distress — including offering advice about using the reporting tools available on the platforms,” an eSafety spokesperson said.
“Although we don’t yet have laws in place that allow us to deal with serious adult cyber abuse, currently we can help informally by providing support and guidance on what to do.”