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Twitter Disbands Its ‘Trust and Safety Council’

Business

Twitter logo behind a depiction of people on social media | Image by REUTERS

As chief executive and majority owner of Twitter, Elon Musk has dissolved the platform’s Trust and Safety Council.

Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council — whose web address is now disabled — was a roughly 100-member advisory group formed in 2016 and tasked with dealing with hate speech, child exploitation, suicide, self-harm, and other alleged content problems on the platform.

Musk announced the decision late Monday night via email to relevant employees, but the letter went public on Twitter quickly thereafter.

“Dear Trust and Safety Council Members, As Twitter moves into a new phase, we are reevaluating how best to bring external insights into our product and policy development work. As part of this process, we have decided that the Trust and Safety Council is not the best structure to do this,” Twitter said in the email.

“Our work to make Twitter a safe, informative place will be moving faster and more aggressively than ever before, and we will continue to welcome your ideas going forward about how to achieve this goal.”

The letter went on to thank the Trust and Safety Council for its work with the company over the years.

“We are grateful for your engagement, advice, and collaboration in recent years and wish you every success in the future,” the email concluded.

Twitter’s decision to dissolve the Trust and Safety Council follows a December 8 resignation announcement by former group members over the “safety” of the platform’s global user base.

“We are announcing our resignation from Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council because it is clear from research evidence that, contrary to claims by Elon Musk, the safety and well-being of Twitter’s users are on the decline,” Eirliani Abdul Rahman and Anne Collier said in a published statement announcing their departure.

“The question has been on our minds: Should Musk be allowed to define digital safety as he has freedom of expression? Our answer is a categorical ‘no,'” the two claimed.

In response to the Trust and Safety Council’s dissolution, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) issued a statement expressing disappointment “because its members had valuable insights about how to make their platform a safer place for all users.”

The left-leaning advocacy group was an active member of the council, claiming that it helped the platform address issues of hate, harassment, and extremism online, and connected it with those most affected by them.

However, others took to Twitter to highlight the alleged inept nature of how the Trust and Safety Council operated, the policies it has been accused of selectively enforcing, and the role Rahman and Collier played in the alleged suppression of certain speech on the platform.

“While you sat on that council, children were being trafficked & you knew it & – at best – did nothing. You should not just be able to walk away – you should be held accountable,” tweeted one user in response to Rahman and Collier’s departure.

“Indeed. Shame on them!” replied Musk.

In the past month, Musk, with the help of two independent journalists — Matt Taibbi and Bari Weiss — in collaboration with lawyers, published a series of internal company documents dubbed “The Twitter Files,” which detail the alleged abuse of power by activist employees and the influence government officials and federal agencies played in the suppression of information leading up to and after the 2020 presidential election.

In response to part five of the Twitter Files, which focused on the removal of former President Trump from the platform, Musk tweeted, “Under pressure from hundreds of activist employees, Twitter deplatforms Trump, a sitting US President, even though they themselves acknowledge that he didn’t violate the rules.”

Part six of the Twitter Files has yet to be released, and it is unclear what moves Musk plans to make with Twitter going forward into 2023.

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