June 16, 2024

Twitter owner Musk disbands platform’s Trust and Safety Council


Twitter owner Elon Musk on Monday disbanded the platform’s Trust and Safety Council, an advisory body of about 100 independent organizations designed to help monitor public safety for users.

The curt email informing the council of the move came down just before a scheduled meeting with Twitter representatives on how to move forward since Musk took over the platform in October.

The council is a volunteer body with no decision-making power in the company, comprised of independent civil, human rights and other organizations. It was formed in 2016.

Twitter said it was “reevaluating how best to bring external insights” and had determined that the council was “not the best structure to do this.”

The volunteer group helped the platform guard against hate, harassment and other harmful online behavior. The company said it would not abandon those efforts but did not provide specifics.

“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,” read the email, signed “Twitter.”

Many on the council were about to quit, member Larry Magid told The Washington Post and others who had already done so were targeted online.

“By disbanding it, we got fired instead of quit,” said Magid, chief executive of Silicon Valley nonprofit ConnectSafely, which gives consumers advice on children’s internet use.

“Elon doesn’t want criticism, and he really doesn’t want the kind of advice he would very likely get from a safety advisory council, which would likely tell him to rehire some of the staff he got rid of, and reinstate some of the rules he got rid of, and turn the company in another direction from where he is turning it.”

Three who resigned last week were themselves immediately targeted online, especially after Musk issued tweets implying that they had not done enough to stem child sexual exploitation.

Remaining members emailed Twitter earlier on Monday to tell the company that false accusations were “endangering current and former Council members” by misrepresenting the council’s role in the company with tweets such as, “It is a crime that they refused to take action on child exploitation for years!”

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