Twitter on Monday night abruptly dissolved its Trust and Safety Council, the latest sign that Elon Musk is unraveling years of work and institutions created tome the social network safer, The Washington Post reported.
According to The Washington Post, members of Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council received an email with the subject line “Thank You,” that informed them the council was no longer “the best structure” to bring “external insights into our product and policy development work.”
The email dissolution arrived less than an hour before members of the council were expected to meet with Twitter executives via Zoom to discuss recent developments, according to people familiar with the matter and who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the plans.
The Washington Post also wrote that the emails stated: “We are grateful for your engagement, advice and collaboration in recent years and wish you every success in the future.” The email was simply signed “Twitter.”
If you try to go to Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council page, it says: “Nothing to see here”. It also says, “Looks like this page doesn’t exist. Here’s a picture of a poodle sitting on a chair for your trouble”. Off to the side is a white poodle, with Ben Day dots that are printed over it. The chair the poodle sits on is red, with white colored arms and legs.
Fortunately, NBC News provided a link to what used to be Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council page. Part of the information says:
The Twitter Trust and Safety Council is a group of independent expert organizations from around the world. Together, they advocate for safety and advise us as we develop our products, programs, and rules. At the end of 2019, we expanded the Council to include even more global experts and diverse perspectives.
According to NBC News: “Areas of focus included Online Safety and Harassment, Human and Digital Rights, Suicide Prevention and Mental Health, Child Sexual Exploitation, and Dehumanization,” and the council included such groups as the Anti-Defamation League, GLAAD and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
NBC News reported that Alex Holmes, who had been a member of the Trust and Safety council, tweeted that the email came after the company canceled a meeting with the council.
“The way this has unfolded and way member have been treated is unfortunate and unacceptable,” said Holmes, a member of the advisory board of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the deputy CEO of the nonprofit group The Diana Award.
According to NBC News, Holmes added, “Over the past week, members of the council have had their personal safety and well-being impacted by actions of Twitter staff.”
Engadget reported that the Trust and Safety Council members aren’t employees handling moderation on the website, and they have no power to make decisions to review banned accounts and specific tweets. They’re a group of external advisors…volunteering their time to help Twitter figure out how to fight hate and harassment.
In my opinion, disbanding the Trust and Safety Council is a sign that Elon Musk doesn’t care how toxic his recently purchased social media site becomes. There was good reason to form it in 2016, when the goal was to make Twitter a place where “anyone, anywhere, can express themselves safely and confidently”. It’s too bad that the council has been disbanded, as its removal is going to affect many Twitter users in very negative ways.