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Twitter disbands safety council in wake of member resignations

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Twitter has dissolved its volunteer Trust and Safety Council, set up to advise the company on combating dangerous behaviour on its platform, days after three prominent members resigned over concerns with Elon Musk’s leadership.

The council was created in 2016 to solicit advice from dozens of experts and external organisations on how Twitter should tackle harassment, mental health issues and child exploitation, as well as suicide prevention.

But in a note sent to members on Monday, the social media company said the council was no longer the “best structure” to gain outside insights on its policies.

“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,” Twitter said.

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

The move came four days after three prominent members of the council announced they were stepping down, citing Musk’s behaviour.

“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 group said in a statement.

“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’.”

The council had been due to convene with Twitter representatives on Monday but the meeting was cancelled, according to members who had expected to attend.

“The way we have been treated is incredibly poor,” one member told the Financial Times. “Cancelling a meeting one hour before due, with nothing more than an email after years of work, and after some members’ safety has been jeopardised due to Twitter staff and actions.”

Musk has claimed that under Twitter’s previous leadership, the company “refused to take action” on child exploitation, prompting co-founder and former chief executive Jack Dorsey, considered a Musk ally, to respond: “This is false.”

It was one of several exchanges on the platform over the past few days, in which the billionaire Tesla chief executive also took aim at LGBTQ+ communities, US chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci and Twitter’s former head of trust and safety Yoel Roth.

On Sunday night, Musk appeared on stage during a performance by comedian Dave Chappelle in San Francisco and was met by boos from a significant portion of the audience. Musk later called the incident “a first for me in real life”.

On Monday, Twitter relaunched Twitter Blue, its paid membership programme that allows users to buy a verification tick. The service was suspended following its rollout last month due to issues around impersonation. Twitter has said it now has a more robust process in place to verify users’ identities.

Impersonation concerns were one of several reasons advertisers cited for becoming increasingly wary of doing business with the social network. The Financial Times previously reported that many large companies had paused spending on the platform.

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