Twitter Disbands Trust and Safety Council Amid Criticism of Child Abuse Material

Caden Pearson
By Caden Pearson
December 13, 2022Science & Tech

Twitter has disbanded its Trust and Safety Council, according to an email, after new owner Elon Musk criticized members over a lack of action to rid the platform of child sexual abuse material.

In an email to the council’s members, Twitter said the Trust and Safety Council was no longer deemed the best way for the social media platform to “bring external insights into our product and policy development work.”

“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,” the email stated.

“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,” the email continued. “We will also continue to explore opportunities to provide focused and timely input into our work, whether through bilateral or small group meetings.”

The council was informed of the change before it was scheduled to meet with Twitter representatives on Monday night, according to The Associated Press.

The webpage for the Trust and Safety Council is now blank. The group was previously made up of around 100 stakeholders, including independent civil, human rights, and other organizations.

Child Safety

The Trust and Safety Council has been criticized by Musk for not taking action to remove child sexual abuse material from Twitter.

The council was established in 2016 to address problems such as hate speech, child exploitation, suicide, self-harm, and other issues on the platform.

After three members of the council resigned in protest over allegations of increased hate speech on the platform on Dec. 8, Musk declared on Dec. 10 that it was “a crime that they refused to take action on child exploitation for years!”

Former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey replied to Musk, saying: “This is false.”

“No, it is not,” Musk replied, adding: “When Ella Irwin, who now runs Trust & Safety, joined Twitter earlier this year, almost no one was working on child safety.”

Musk noted that, unlike Twitter’s former management, he “made it top priority immediately.”

On Dec. 10, Twitter Safety announced that it had suspended 57 percent more “bad actor” accounts in November with child sexual exploitation material (CSE), which was significantly more than any other month year-to-date.

“We’ve been improving our detection and enforcement methods and expanding our partnerships with organizations that help prevent the trafficking of CSE material,” the company said.

Eliza Blue, a sex trafficking survivor, who has advocated for the removal of CSE material from Twitter, has noted an improvement in the way Twitter addresses the problem under Musk.

“There was basically no child safety team when he started. He made building the team his top priority. Then he built the team,” she said.

Hate Speech

Twitter has reported that hate speech is trending downward on the platform, while external critics have said it is increasing.

Inaugural members Anne Collier and Eirliani Rahman, as well as Lesley Podesta, resigned from Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council council in protest on Dec. 8, citing a rise in hate speech.

The White House has also expressed concern about hate speech on the platform.

However, Twitter reported on Dec. 11 that data shows “a consistent downward trend in true hateful language impressions.”

“Counting the number of Tweets that contain a specific slur is not an accurate way to measure hateful speech. Context matters, and not all occurrences of slur words are used in a hateful way. Slur words may be used in counterspeech, reclaimed phrases, and song lyrics, for example,” the company said.

The platform noted that 10 accounts were responsible for a spike in hate speech. Twitter said it won’t amplify any tweets containing slurs or hate speech, nor will it serve ads next to them.

“We track all uses of slurs, not just the ones that are used in a hateful manner. However, the raw data alone doesn’t tell the full story,” the company said.

The Epoch Times contacted Collier, Rahman, and Podesta for further comment.

From The Epoch Times

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