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X is failing in Australia – could eSafety stoush be the last straw?

As Elon Musk’s X continues to fight in censorship row, the company records a mere four-figure profit in Australia. But will he ever call it quits?

user icon David Hollingworth
Mon, 29 Apr 2024
X is failing in Australia – could eSafety stoush be the last straw?
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X, formerly known as Twitter, is currently fighting a front-page battle with the Australian eSafety Commissioner over censorship and freedom of speech – but a filing with the Australian corporate regulator suggests it may be a losing battle for X’s owner, Elon Musk.

According to filings with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), X is making barely any money in Australia – certainly not enough to justify possible daily fines of $785,000.

The fines are a potential outcome following eSafety’s takedown notices regarding a church stabbing earlier this month, which saw footage of the live-streamed violently interrupted sermon widely circulated on several social media platforms in the wake of the incident.


Most complied with eSafety’s takedown notices, but X only geoblocked the content, leading to a court case between X and eSafety, as well as combative exchanges between Elon Musk and an array of Australian politicians of all stripes.

But about those daily fines.

If they go ahead, Twitter Australia Holdings – which represents the company’s business in the country – will be operating at a stupendous loss, even after just one day.

And that’s because Twitter made only $4,804 net profit in the first half of 2023, according to reporting from The Australian Financial Review.

The company reported revenue of $3.4 million for the period, which dropped to an operating profit of $1.9 million after accounting for sales and marketing expenses, admin, R&D, and other expenses.

However, most of that figure was lost to tax, leaving that lean sub $5,000 figure.

All of this was against a background of slashed salaries and bonuses, reduced marketing spend, and even pushing employees to work from home to address the cost of facilities.

The Financial Review describes the figures as representing an “undesirable business”, and it’s hard to disagree. But that begs the question of whether or not someone at X might think that risking losing a fight with the Australian government – and somehow getting the social media platform blocked in the country – is actually worth it.

That said, Musk seems more than willing to throw good money after bad, even as Australian users are increasingly abandoning the platform, as he’s done so often in the past.

Musk may consider paying $785,000 a day to cement his free speech warrior crown as a worthwhile investment.

David Hollingworth

David Hollingworth

David Hollingworth has been writing about technology for over 20 years, and has worked for a range of print and online titles in his career. He is enjoying getting to grips with cyber security, especially when it lets him talk about Lego.

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