twitter logo

Musk’s Twitter dissolves Trust and Safety Council

Image credit: reuters

Twitter has dissolved its Trust and Safety Council, the advisory group of nearly 100 independent civil, human rights and other organisations.

The company formed the council in 2016 to address hate speech, child exploitation, suicide, self-harm and other problems on the platform.

The council had been scheduled to meet with Twitter representatives on Monday night. However, Twitter informed the group via email that it was disbanding it shortly before the meeting was to take place, according to multiple members.

The council members, who provided images of the email from Twitter to The Associated Press (AP), spoke to AP on the condition of anonymity due to fears of retaliation.

“Our work to make Twitter a safe, informative place will be moving faster and more aggressively than ever before and we will continue to welcome your ideas going forward about how to achieve this goal,” said the email, which was anonymously signed as simply 'Twitter'.

The disbanding of the Trust and Safety Council follows a similarly perfunctory near-total dissolution of Twitter's corporate communications and media relations team. Musk has previously taken similar action at Tesla. 

This latest move at Twitter comes as the issue of safety online becomes an increasing concern, with the platform itself in a state of flux following Musk’s $44bn takeover and his immediate company-wide slashing of thousands of jobs.

The UK's Online Safety Bill - which will purportedly require greater vigilance from social media companies such as Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube and Snap regarding harmful content posted to their platforms - continues to limp towards permanent status, having been repeatedly tweaked, postponed and amended.

The bill - already several years in its gestation - was still being refined and amended last month. The NSPCC has criticised the continual delays in bringing the bill into law, while in August this year IT experts dismissed the bill in its existing state as "unfit for purpose", notably in its ambitions to compel social media platforms to tackle online harms.

At the end of November, the UK government announced that it had dropped plans to force tech firms to remove internet content that is “harmful but legal”, after facing backlash from companies and free speech advocates, causing campaigners for stronger measures to accuse the government of "watering down" the efficacy of the bill in tackling serious issues of harmful content. 

Twitter and its fellow social media companies also remain in the crosshairs of the EU, with an announcement yesterday that the bloc had finally reached a deal in principle to send an 18 billion euro (£15.4 billion) financial aid package to Ukraine and also to approve a minimum tax of major corporations in a significant move that overcomes a longstanding rift between the European Union and recalcitrant member Hungary.

The deals had been in jeopardy over complaints by the other member states that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban had veered away from the democratic rule of law and was abusing his veto powers in order to secure aid funds for his country. 

The EU’s Czech presidency described the deal - ironically, on Twitter - with the celebratory message, “Megadeal!”.

Meanwhile, Twitter was described in the UK Parliament yesterday as a "sewer" by Tory frontbencher Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park. Lord Goldsmith was highlighting the “one shining light” of the social media platform in playing a crucial part in helping to keep an international spotlight on the protests in Iran.

Referring to the highly questionable detentions and death sentences imposed on protesters by the regime in Tehran, Lord Goldsmith told MPs: “Iran must be in no doubt that the world is watching. It cannot continue to unleash violence against its own people to stifle voices of dissent.

“In the sewer that is Twitter, the one shining light is its ability to transmit and convey images of the really staggering bravery on the part of these protesters.

“Without social media, it is very hard to see how the world would be as awake to what is happening in Iran as it is.

“Whenever I find myself feeling gloomy about the filth on that social media site, I remind myself that it does have an incredible role to play.”

Sign up to the E&T News e-mail to get great stories like this delivered to your inbox every day.

Recent articles