Twitter's Former Top Safety Exec Forced to Flee His Home

Meanwhile, social media company ditches its Trust and Safety Council
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 13, 2022 1:01 AM CST
Updated Dec 13, 2022 7:05 AM CST
Twitter Just Ditched Its Trust and Safety Council
Elon Musk waves on Feb. 10, 2022, near Brownsville, Texas. Musk's Twitter has dissolved its Trust and Safety Council, the advisory group of around 100 independent civil, human rights and other organizations formed to address hate speech, child exploitation, suicide, self-harm, and other problems.   (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald via AP, File)

Less than an hour before a scheduled meeting between Twitter execs and the social network's Trust and Safety Council, the council was abruptly dissolved Monday night. "As Twitter moves into a new phase, we are re-evaluating 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," read an email to members of the council signed simply, "Twitter." The council was composed of civil rights leaders, academics, and advocates who volunteered their time to help Twitter improve safety on the social media platform, the Washington Post reports. Last week, three council members publicly resigned, citing the decline of user safety on Twitter, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The move comes as a former Twitter exec who was in charge of trust and safety at the company was forced to flee his home due to threats related to an Elon Musk tweet about him, CNN reports. Yoel Roth, who left the company last month, and his family were bombarded with threats after Musk tweeted a screenshot of Roth's dissertation and wrote, "Looks like Yoel is arguing in favor of children being able to access adult Internet services in his PhD thesis." (Roth's dissertation argued that certain services, like gay dating app Grindr, should implement safety strategies to deal with teens who use their services.) As the Journal and CNN point out, conspiracy theorists, including QAnon followers, often baselessly attempt to link people to pedophilia as a form of attack.

While many more members of the Trust and Safety Council were reportedly on the brink of joining their colleagues who'd already resigned, members were still upset at the abrupt dissolution of the council. One anonymously referred to it as tossing "years of institutional memory that we on the council have brought. ... Getting external experts and advocates looking at your services makes you smarter." Adds another former member, "Elon doesn’t want criticism, and he really doesn’t want the kind of advice he would very likely get from a safety advisory council, which would likely tell him to rehire some of the staff he got rid of, and reinstate some of the rules he got rid of, and turn the company in another direction from where he is turning it.” (More Twitter stories.)

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