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Twitter dismantles its Trust and Safety Council moments before meeting

Plus: Elon Musk is now a number 2

Comment Twitter has taken a match to its Trust and Safety Council, the group of 100 civil rights organizations formed in 2016 to tackle issues like hate speech, child exploitation and suicide on the platform.

Although an advisory association, it is just the latest in a series of sweeping cuts to Twitter under Elon Musk's tenure as owner and CEO, including laying off half of the company's 7,500 headcount and accepting more than 1,200 resignations.

The group learned of its fate mere moments before it was due to meet with company representatives on Monday in an email that was passed to The Associated Press, which said Twitter was "reevaluating how best to bring external insights" and that the council was "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," said the email, which was signed "Twitter."

Council member Alex Holmes tweeted: "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.

"It is disappointing therefore that after much postponement, a meeting was cancelled and an email sent informing group that the council was disbanded. Over past week several members of council have had their personal safety and well-being impacted by the actions of Twitter staff.

"Many of us have been in this space for a number of years, each with different expertise, but all with a passion to see healthy and diverse conversations and safety exist on platforms. The way this has unfolded and way members have been treated is unfortunate and unacceptable."

He is referring to utterances from Musk following the resignations of council members last week claiming that Twitter "refused to take action on child exploitation for years!" This even prompted founder Jack Dorsey to chime in: "This is false."

But where Musk trolls, his legions of sycophants follow, and council members have faced persistent attacks online, which led them to request that Twitter stops misrepresenting their work. Comments by leadership were "endangering current and former council members," the email said.

Remember the ire heaped by Musk's followers on a diver the Twitter boss called "pedo guy" (without defaming him, a jury ruled) because he was trying to rescue kids trapped in a cave system in Thailand and thought the SpaceX CEO couldn't help?

Meanwhile, former head of trust and safety Yoel Roth has reportedly been forced from his home by harassment after Musk tweeted: "Looks like Yoel is arguing in favor of children being able to access adult Internet services in his PhD thesis," along with a cherry-picked paragraph from his academic work. Really the dissertation [PDF] isn't about that, but if the world's second richest man says it is, who cares, right?

About that – if there's another silver lining to the Twitter dumpster fire, 2022's feelgood tech news story, it's that Musk has slipped into the number two position on Forbes' real-time billionaires list due to damage to his last publicly traded asset, Tesla. Bernard Arnault (and family) now sits in the top spot. CEO of LVMH, he owns a number of luxury goods companies including Christian Dior, Fendi, Givenchy, Marc Jacobs, Stella McCartney, Loewe, Loro Piana, Kenzo, Celine, Sephora, Princess Yachts, TAG Heuer, Bulgari, and Tiffany & Co.

Meanwhile, the followers of Musk's current internet persona are starting to tweet QAnon and Pizzagate theories, making his company's pledge to "make Twitter a safe, informative place" ring hollow. And this guy was surprised that he was booed by thousands during a comedy gig on Sunday. ®

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