Twitter disbanded its Trust and Safety Council via email and less than an hour ahead of its members’ Zoom meeting with company executives, according to The Washington Post and NPR. The council was reportedly discussing recent developments and changes on the website under Elon Musk’s leadership, but the email said members’ help is no longer needed. Members were apparently informed that Twitter is “re-evaluating how best to bring outside insights” and that the council is no longer “the best structure to do this.”
The company disbanded the group just a few days after three members resigned from their voluntary positions. In their letter they said Twitter users’ well-being is declining despite Musk’s claims that the executive should not define digital security. Commenting on the news of their departure, Musk tweeted: “It is a crime that they refused to take action against child exploitation for years!” After that tweet NPR said some of the remaining members sent a letter to Twitter demanding the company stop misrepresenting the board’s role as attacks on former and current advisers grew worse.
The members of the Trust and Safety Council are not employees who oversee the website and they have no authority to make decisions or review banned accounts and specific tweets. It is a group of outside consultants from expert and anti-abuse organizations, including the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, YAKIN (Youth Adult Survivors & Kin in Need), the Samaritans, and GLAAD, who volunteer their time to help Twitter figure out how hate and combat harassment. When Twitter formed the council in 2016, it said the group’s goal is to make the website a less toxic place so that “anyone, anywhere can express themselves safely and confidently.”
More members were on the verge of resigning before the group disbanded, Larry Magid, CEO of ConnectSafely, a Silicon Valley nonprofit, told me. The mail. He said, “By decomposing [the council], we were fired instead of quitting. Elon doesn’t want criticism, and he really doesn’t want the kind of advice he’d probably get from a security advisory board, which would probably tell him to rehire some of the staff he lost and some of the rules he’s got abolished, and to steer the company in a different direction from where he is turning it.
Musk said in October he will form a “moderation board” made up of members with “widely differing views” before reinstating banned accounts. But in a November interview, he admitted that he still has the final say in making decisions. Twitter has yet to introduce a moderation board, but Musk has restored previously banned accounts, such as those of Donald Trump and Andrew Anglin, the neo-Nazi creator of The daily stormer.
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