"Nothing to see here. This page does not exist. Here is a picture of a poodle sitting on a chair for your trouble." These are the words that appear on the website of the Twitter Trust and Safety Council. Elon Musk has disbanded the committee once in charge of the site's censorship guidelines.
The Trust and Safety Council consisted of about 100 supposedly independent civil organizations that had been working with the social network since 2016. Its theoretical goal was to combat hate speech, child exploitation, suicide, self-harm and other problems. Twitter has been exposed for exercising ideological, political and scientific censorship. Three members of this board resigned last week.
This Monday, representatives of the council were to meet with several company executives. However, the meeting did not take place, as they received an email signed by Twitter explaining their dissolution:
Dear Trust and Safety Council Members,
As Twitter moves into a new phase, we are reevaluating how best to bring external insights into our product and policy development work. As part of this process, we have decided that the Trust and Safety Council is not the best structure to do this.
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. We will also continue to explore opportunities to provide focussed and timely input into our work, whether through bilateral or small group meetings.
Your regional points of contact will remain the best people to contact to escalate concerns, please let us know if you need reconnecting. We are grateful for your engagement, advice and collaboration in recent years and wish you every success in the future.
With our best wishes,
NEW: Twitter has disbanded its "Trust and Safety Council."
Members included expert groups working to tackle harassment, child exploitation, and human rights. pic.twitter.com/hXna9UX02t
- Donie O'Sullivan (@donie) December 13, 2022
The council's response
After acquiring the social network in October, Elon Musk set a goal of setting up a new system to moderate content.
Several members of the Trust and Safety Council reacted to Musk's decision. Alex Holmes, an anti-bullying activist, said his job was advisory, not decision-making:
Twitter's Trust and Safety Council was a group of volunteers who over many years gave up their time when consulted by Twitter staff to offer advice on a wide range of online harms and safety issues.
At no point was it a governing body or decision making.
- Alex Holmes 🏳️🌈 (@abcholmes) December 13, 2022
Anne Collier, founder of the NGO Net Family News, was one of the representatives who announced her resignation last week. "We are announcing our resignation from Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council because 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 question has been on our minds: Should Musk be allowed to define digital safety as he has freedom of expression? Our answer is a categorical no," she said in a statement.