The Trust and Safety Council, which Elon Musk’s Twitter founded in 2016 to address issues like hate speech, child exploitation, suicide, and self-harm, has been disbanded. The council was comprised of roughly one hundred independent civil, human rights, and other organizations. On Monday night, the council was supposed to meet with Twitter executives. However, numerous attendees claim that Twitter abruptly disbanded the group by emailing them just before the scheduled meeting.
Members of the council who shared screenshots of the email sent over Twitter to the Associated Press did so under the condition of anonymity out of concern for reprisal. An internal email stated that the council was “not the best structure to do this” while Twitter was “reevaluating how best to bring external insights.” “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,” said the email, which was signed “Twitter.”
The volunteer committee advised Twitter on how to better address hate speech, harassment, and other negative effects of the platform, but it did not have any decision-making power and did not assess individual content disputes. Musk initially stated he would organize a new “content moderation council” to help make critical choices after spending $44 billion to acquire Twitter in late October, but he then reversed his position.
“Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council was a group of volunteers who over many years gave up their time when consulted by Twitter staff to offer advice on a wide range of online harms and safety issues,” tweeted council member Alex Holmes. “At no point was it a governing body or decision making.” San Francisco-based Twitter confirmed the council meeting via email on Thursday, promising an “open conversation and Q&A” with Twitter workers, including the new head of trust and safety, Ella Irwin.
A public statement made on Twitter by three council members the same day noted, “contrary to claims by Elon Musk, the safety and well-being of Twitter’s users are on the decline.” After Musk bolstered criticism of the ex-council members and Twitter’s prior leadership for allegedly failing to do enough to stop child s*xual exploitation on the network, those individuals found themselves the targets of online abuse.
“It is a crime that they refused to take action on child exploitation for years!” Musk tweeted. Some remaining members expressed worry in an email to Twitter on Monday morning, asking that the business stop misrepresenting the council’s position in light of the increasing number of attacks against it.
"something like that"
let that sink in
— Swaroop D 🛴 (@swaroopspaces) December 14, 2022
The memo claimed that the Twitter leadership’s baseless claims were “endangering current and former Council members.” In reality, the Trust and Safety Council hosted a subcommittee dedicated to preventing child exploitation.
Youth Adult Survivors & Kin in Need (YAKIN) was one of these groups, along with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) and the Rati Foundation. On Monday, Patricia Cartes, a former Twitter employee whose role it was to establish the council in 2016, claimed that the group’s dissolution “means there are no longer checks and balances.”
Cartes explained that the firm wanted to include international perspectives on the council so that people from all over the world could voice their concerns about how Twitter’s upcoming changes could affect them. She made a comparison to the way Musk currently moderators posts on Twitter, which involves polling his followers first. “He doesn’t really care as much about what experts think,” she said.
Elon Musk‘s Twitter established a Trust and Safety Council in 2016 to deal with problems including hate speech, child exploitation, suicide, and self-harm, but it has since disbanded. Roughly a hundred separate civil, human rights, and other groups made up the council.
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