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On Monday, Twitter disbanded its Trust and Safety Council, a group of volunteers who offered the company outside expert advice about online safety, according to an email confirmed by NBC News.
The advisory group of around 100 independent civil, human rights and other organizations was formed in 2016 to address hate speech, child exploitation, suicide, self-harm and other problems on the platform.
“As Twitter moves into a new phase, we are reevaluating how best to bring external insights into our product and policy development work,” the company said in the email. “As part of this process, we have decided that the Trust and Safety Council is not the best structure to do this.”
NBC News reports Alex Holmes, who had been a member of the council, tweeted that the email came after the company canceled a meeting with the council.
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) December 13, 2022
“The way this has unfolded and way members 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.
Holmes added, “Over past week several members of council have had their personal safety and well-being impacted by the actions of Twitter staff.”
Some Twitter staff were cut off after missing a Saturday deadline from Elon Musk because they didn’t check emails at the weekend, report says https://t.co/XrZ9oXb4ZX
— Insider Business (@BusinessInsider) December 13, 2022
Elon Musk, the new CEO of Twitter, continues to shape the company toward what he has called his “free speech absolutist” ideals, which have included restoring the accounts of white nationalists and QAnon believers.
Musk has addressed concerns about abuse and misinformation flourishing on the platform by saying the company will embrace “freedom of speech, but not freedom of reach.”
With Twitter becoming increasingly more far right-winged by the day, Musk’s personal riches and his social capital have taken a big hit since his $44 billion purchase of the app in late October.
The account that posted Elon Musk getting booed at Dave Chapelle’s show was just deleted, for some reason. Here’s the video in questionhttps://t.co/EpblEHFCbE https://t.co/92CTBKywLf pic.twitter.com/Fd8DkxM32e
— Eliot Higgins (@EliotHiggins) December 12, 2022
Elon Musk is a real #2
Musk, CEO of Tesla and Twitter, saw his net worth overtaken by that of French billionaire Bernard Arnault on Monday, according to data from Forbes.
Yoel Roth, Twitter’s former head of Trust and Safety, has been forced to flee his home after receiving death threats stemming from Elon Musk’s suggesting that Roth is a pedophile, CNN reported on Monday.
Looks like Yoel is arguing in favor of children being able to access adult Internet services in his PhD thesis: pic.twitter.com/1NiBohjhMQ
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 10, 2022
Watching Elon launch a digital mob against his former head of trust and safety, Yoel Roth, an openly gay Jewish man, is one of the most vile and disgusting things I’ve ever seen. He’s putting Yoel’s life in danger and he knows it. It’s sick, twisted, and sociopathic. pic.twitter.com/eOR6Kt9zuS
— Alejandra Caraballo (@Esqueer_) December 11, 2022
While Musk creates new policies seemingly by the whim, Twitter recently defended its hands-off position. “People will still see slur words in Tweets when they follow an account that uses them,” according to a post from Twitter Safety’s official account. “However, we will not amplify Tweets containing slurs or hate speech, and we will not serve ads adjacent to those Tweets.”
While that is their public stance, The Center for Countering Digital Hate and Anti-Defamation League both said in reports that the volume of hate speech on Twitter has grown dramatically under Musk’s stewardship.
Specifically, the Center for Countering Digital Hate said the daily use of the n-word under Musk is triple the 2022 average, and the use of slurs against gay men and trans persons are up 58% and 62%, respectively.
The Anti-Defamation League said in a separate report that its data shows “both an increase in antisemitic content on the platform and a decrease in the moderation of antisemitic posts.”
Even after last month’s admission of a”massive drop in revenue” at Twitter, Musk continues to threaten the safety of those who disagree with him.