Twitter disbands independent Trust, Safety Council which helped in content moderation

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Twitter Inc. has disbanded its Trust and Safety Council, a group of independent experts who provided guidance on content moderation issues, days after several members quit.

The company, recently bought by Elon Musk, created the advisory group in 2016 to help tackle child sexual exploitation, hate speech, harassment, self-harm, and other problems on the platform.

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Late Monday, members of the council received an email from Twitter with the subject line “Thank you,” informing them the group was being disbanded.

“As Twitter moves into a new phase, we are reevaluating how best to bring external insights into our product and policy development work,” the letter read, according to a copy seen by Bloomberg News. “As part of this process, we have decided that the Trust and Safety Council is not the best structure to do this.”

Twitter added that work to make the app a “safe, informative place will be moving faster and more aggressively than ever before” and that it would “continue to welcome your ideas going forward about how to achieve this goal.”

Since taking over Twitter in October, Musk has made sweeping cuts to Twitter’s workforce, including those responsible for trust and safety. The team dedicated to identifying and removing child sexual exploitation was decimated by the changes, Bloomberg reported last month. Musk has also been making his own content decisions, including reinstating the accounts of people who had previously been suspended.

Last week, three members of the council announced their resignation over concerns about the company’s ability to police the platform for harmful content.

“It is clear from research evidence that, contrary to claims by Elon Musk, the safety and wellbeing of Twitter’s users are on the decline,” the former members wrote in a statement shared on Twitter.

Denton Howard, executive director of INHOPE, a nonprofit focused on combating child sexual abuse material online and a member of the council, said he was concerned about what the move will mean for the safety of the platform.

“I’m saddened by it,” he said in an interview. “It says to me that trust and safety isn’t a priority for them.”

Howard said that many of the “very committed individuals he had worked with over the years have already been fired or quit and that he hasn’t seen any signs of progress at addressing child sexual exploitation on the platform, in spite of Musk’s assertions that it is a priority.

“It’s a bit like saying there’s something behind the curtain and I’m not going to tell you what it is or show you what it is,” he said. “I would love it if he had come up with some magic formula that’s been evading everyone else but I have a feeling the emperor has no clothes.”

Twitter didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Read more: Twitter exec says moving fast on moderation, as harmful content surges

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