Twitter Disbands Trust and Safety Council, As Former Executive Threatened

Elon Musk continues to make major policy changes at Twitter, with the news that the platform’s Trust and Safety Council has been disbanded.

Reuters saw an email from Twitter confirming the disbanding of the Trust and Safety Council, the volunteer group that was formed in 2016 to advise the social media platform on site decisions.

Since he took control of Twitter, Elon Musk axed over half its workforce, purged its management teams, with hundreds more resigning after he ordered Twitter’s remaining workforce to work long hours (including sleeping at the office).

Image credit: Elon Musk

Trust and Safety Council

Elon Musk also gutted Twitter’s external contractor teams, whose role was to ensure the platform was free of misinformation and hate.

Following that, many users are now complaining of unsuitable content or accounts appearing in their Twitter feeds.

Now Musk has disbanded Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council.

“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,” an email sent to the Trust and Safety Council members, seen by Reuters, said.

A Twitter page for the group has also been deleted.

The council was made up of civil rights organisations, academics and other bodies that advocated for safety and advised Twitter as it developed products, programs, and rules, according to a web archive for the page.

Twitter did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Board resignations

The email from Twitter arrived less than an hour before members of the council were expecting to meet with company executives via Zoom, the Washington Post reported.

Last week, three members of the Trust and Safety Council resigned, warning that the “safety and wellbeing of Twitter’s users are on the decline.”

And the Washington Post reported that many other members were already on the verge of resigning.

“It is clear from research evidence that, contrary to claims by Elon Musk, the safety and wellbeing of Twitter’s users are on the decline,” council member Anne Collier had tweeted.

Musk responded and accused council members of refusing to take action on child exploitation.

However former Twitter CEO (and Musk supporter) Jack Dorsey tweeted “this was false.”

But Musk insisted he was right, and said he had made this a priority.

Yoel Roth threats

Meanwhile the Washington Post reported on threats of violence against one of Twitter’s purged executives, Yoel Roth (Twitter’s former head of Trust & Safety).

Roth for a while after Musk’s takeover had been deputised to publicly address concerns advertisers and users had about the platform.

But then he suddenly resigned.

Now according to Washington Post, CNN etc, Roth and his family were forced to flee their home after Elon Musk’s tweets misrepresented Roth’s academic writing about sexual activity and children.

An online mob of Musk supporters also reportedly sent threats to people Roth had replied to on Twitter, forcing some of Roth’s family and friends to delete their Twitter accounts, according to a person familiar with Roth’s situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to concerns about Roth’s safety.

Musk’s followers also directed harassment at professors who reviewed the dissertation that Roth wrote in 2016, as well as at his graduate school, the University of Pennsylvania, the person said.

Musk tweets about Roth recalled the QAnon conspiracy movement, which falsely claim that Democratic Party leaders direct a child sex abuse network.

“Looks like Yoel is arguing in favour of children being able to access adult Internet services in his PhD thesis,” Musk tweeted Saturday, attaching a screenshot of Roth’s dissertation.

In the text, Roth suggested that services like the gay dating app Grindr should adopt safety strategies to accommodate teenagers using their platforms, rather than drive them out entirely.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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