November 30, 2023

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Twitter dissolves its Trust and Safety Council

Twitter dissolves its Trust and Safety Council

Three members of the council resigned last week, stating that the safety and wellbeing of Twitter users is on the decline, ‘contrary to claims by Elon Musk’.

Twitter has dissolved its Trust and Safety Council, which was formed to advise the company on its policies and help curb online abuse.

In an email shared by Anthony DeRosa of the Wall Street Journal, Twitter told the council that the company is moving into “a new phase” and is re-evaluating how to bring external insights into its product and policy development.

“As part of this process, we have decided the Trust and Safety Council is not the best structure to do this,” the company said. “We are grateful for your engagement, advice and collaboration in recent years and wish you every success in the future.”

The email said Twitter will continue to “welcome” ideas going forward on how to make the platform a safe, informative place.

The Trust and Safety Council included representatives from various anti-harassment groups as well as researchers and academics. It was set up in 2016 to advocate for safety on the platform and advise Twitter as it developed new products and rules.

The council has played a role in advising Twitter on the development of various features, such as the Safety Mode feature which was tested among feedback groups last year.

It is reported that the dissolution of the council happened less than an hour before its members were expecting to meet with Twitter executives to discuss recent developments.

Council resignations

The development comes a week after three members of the council resigned due to disagreements with Twitter’s new owner Elon Musk.

In a letter shared online, the former council members claimed it is “clear from research evidence” that the safety and wellbeing of Twitter users is on the decline, “contrary to claims by Elon Musk”.

The three former council members also raised issues with Twitter’s new verification system, where subscribers of Twitter Blue can get a ‘verified’ tick mark next to their profile.

“We fear a two-tiered Twitter: one for those who can pay and reap the benefits, and another one for those who cannot,” the letter read.

“This, we fear, will take away the credibility of the system and the beauty of Twitter, the platform where anyone could be heard, regardless of the number of their followers.

“We know that, even after the resignations and dismissals of thousands of employees, there are people working at Twitter who care about reducing hate speech and protecting users on the platform.”

Twitter has lost a large amount of staff since Musk’s takeover at the end of October, as the new owner halved its headcount and the company faced senior leadership losses. This was followed by a wave of resignations as many staff members opted to leave ‘Twitter 2.0’.

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Elon Musk speaking in the Kennedy Space Center. Image: NASA/Kim Shiflett via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)