Twitter Disbands Its Trust and Safety Council

The company said it's "reevaluating" how to bring external insights into product and policy development in an email to the group on Monday.

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Twitter disbanded its Trust and Safety Council
Photo: David Odisho (Getty Images)

Twitter disbanded its Trust and Safety Council on Monday, effectively dissolving the volunteer group of about 100 people that was responsible for moderating content including hate speech, child exploitation, suicide, and self-harm, among others, according to the archived version of the Trust and Safety page.

In an email to the group, the company wrote, “As Twitter moves into a new phase, we are reevaluating how best to bring external insights into our product and policy development work.” It continued, “As part of this process, we have decided that the Trust and Safety Council is not the best structure to do this.” A screenshot of the email was shared on Twitter by CNN correspondent Donie O’Sullivan.

The group was made up of independent civil and human rights advocates, and was first formed in 2016 to combat things like hate speech, terrorism, and child exploitation on the platform. While they did not have decision-making authority, the council would advise and brief Twitter representatives on how the platform could spot and eradicate problems surrounding content. 

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After Elon Musk bought Twitter for $44 billion in October he had said he planned to form his own content moderation council but has not announced any further developments. Instead, Musk disbanded the existing Trust and Safety Council after three council members resigned last week while warning that the “safety and wellbeing of Twitter’s users are on the decline.”

Twitter did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment.

Musk responded to their resignations, tweeting, “It’s a crime that they refused to take action on child exploitation for years!” The company’s former CEO, Jack Dorsey, responded to Musk’s post, calling the claim “false.”

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Larry Magid was a member of the council and is the chief executive of ConnectSafely, a nonprofit that informs users about children’s internet use. He told the Washington Post, “By disbanding [the council], we got fired instead of quit. 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.”

Following the decision, Twitter’s Trust and Safety council member Alex Holmes tweeted the council was not a governing body nor was it responsible for making decisions on the platform. He said the council was informed after “much postponement” that the meeting would be canceled and received an email telling them the council was disbanded less than an hour before the meeting was due to take place.

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According to CNN, the former head of the Trust and Safety Council, Yoel Roth, had to flee his home following threats of violence following Musk’s calls to release the so-called “Twitter Files.”

Holmes wrote in his Twitter post, “Over the past week several members of the council have had their personal safety and well-being impacted by the actions of Twitter staff.”

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He continued, “Many of us have been in this space for a number of years, each with different expertise, but all with a passion to see healthy and diverse conversations and safety exist on platforms. The way this has unfolded and the way members have been treated is unfortunate and unacceptable.”