In a move that’s both completely expected and also a perfect metaphor for what’s going on at Twitter, the company abruptly disbanded its Trust and Safety Council on December 11th.
The council was a volunteer group of about 100 people responsible for moderating content, including hate speed, child exploitation, suicide, self-harm, and more, according to an archived version of the Trust and Safety page shared by Gizmodo.
In an email sent to the group, Twitter wrote:
“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.”
NEW: Twitter has disbanded its "Trust and Safety Council."
Members included expert groups working to tackle harassment, child exploitation, and human rights. pic.twitter.com/hXna9UX02t
— Donie O'Sullivan (@donie) December 13, 2022
Elon Musk, noted comedian and owner of Twitter, previously promised to form his own content moderation council before making major decisions like reinstating accounts. He did not do so. When the broken promise was pointed out to him, Musk blamed activists for him not following through.
Before the council was disbanded, three members resigned, warning that the “safety and wellbeing of Twitter’s users are on the decline.”
Even though the Trust and Safety Council did not have decision-making power and only advised Twitter, Musk responded to the resignation by accusing the council of “refusing to take action on child exploitation for years.” Notably, this came after Musk’s layoffs gutted the Twitter teams responsible for removing child sexual abuse material (CSAM), leaving just one person for the entire Asia Pacific region. Former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey also noted that Musk’s claim was false, but Musk doubled down and claimed he made child safety a “top priority.”
Meanwhile, CNN reported that the former head of the trust and safety, Yoel Roth, had to flee his home following threats of violence resulting from Musk’s campaign of criticism against him. Other members of the Safety council said their personal safety was also “impacted by the actions of Twitter staff.” Roth has appeared repeatedly in internal documents shared as part of Musk’s ‘Twitter Files’ series. Moreover, Roth was previously critical of Musk’s use of polls, saying they were “more prone to manipulation than almost anything else [on Twitter].”
This wouldn’t be the first time Musk’s actions have resulted in harassment. Before Musk took over Twitter, he incited a wave of harassment against Twitter’s former head of policy and legal, Vijaya Gadde.
For the latest on Musk’s Twitter turmoil, check out our coverage here.