By MATT O’BRIEN and BARBARA ORTUTAY (AP Technology Writers)
Elon Musk’s Twitter has dissolved its Trust and Safety Council, the advisory group of around 100 civil, human rights and other independent organizations that the company formed in 2016 to address hate speech, child exploitation, suicide , self-harm and other problems on the platform. .
The council was scheduled to meet with representatives from Twitter on Monday night. But Twitter informed the group via email that it would be disbanding shortly before the meeting was to take place, according to several members.
The council members, who provided images of the Twitter email to The Associated Press, spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation. The email said that Twitter was “re-evaluating the best way to bring in external information” and that the council “is not the best structure to do this.”
“Our work to make Twitter a safe and informative place will move faster and more aggressively than ever, and we will continue to welcome your ideas on how to achieve this goal,” the email, which was signed “Twitter,” read.
The group of volunteers provided expertise and guidance on how Twitter could better combat hate, harassment, and other harm, but had no decision-making authority and did not review specific content disputes. Shortly after buying Twitter for $44 billion in late October, Musk said that he would form a new “content moderation council” to help make important decisions, but later changed his mind.
“The Twitter Trust & Safety Council was a group of volunteers who for many years volunteered their time when asked by Twitter staff to offer advice on a wide range of online harm and safety issues,” the council member tweeted. Alex Holmes. “At no time was it a governing or decision-making body.”
San Francisco-based Twitter had confirmed the council meeting Thursday in an email promising an “open discussion and Q&A” with Twitter staff, including new trust and safety director Ella. irwin.
That came on the same day that three council members announced they were resigning in a public statement posted on Twitter that said that “contrary to Elon Musk’s claims, the safety and well-being of Twitter users is in decline.”
Those former council members soon became the targets of attacks online after Musk amplified criticism of them and previous Twitter leadership for allegedly not doing enough to stop child sexual exploitation on the platform.
“It is a crime that they have refused to take action against child exploitation for years!” Musk tweeted.
A growing number of attacks on the council raised concerns from some remaining members who sent an email to Twitter on Monday demanding that the company stop misrepresenting the council’s role.
Those false accusations by Twitter leaders were “putting current and former Council members in jeopardy,” the email said.
The Trust and Safety Council, in fact, had as one of its advisory groups one that focused on child exploitation. This included the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the Rati Foundation, and YAKIN, or Young Adult Survivors and Relatives in Need.
Former Twitter employee Patricia Cartes, whose job it was to form the council in 2016, said Monday that its dissolution “means there are no more checks and balances.” Cartes said the company sought to bring a global perspective to the council, with experts from around the world who could air concerns about how new Twitter policies or products might affect their communities.
She likened that to Musk’s current practice of polling his Twitter followers before making a policy change that affects how content is moderated.
“He doesn’t really care that much what the experts think,” he said.