Elon Musk’s Twitter abruptly disbanded its Trust and Safety Council on Monday evening, moments before it was scheduled to meet with company officials.
The council was an advisory group of nearly 100 independent civil, human rights and other organizations that the company formed in 2016 to address hate speech, child exploitation, suicide, abuse self-harm and other issues on the platform. But Twitter notified the group via email that it was disbanding shortly before the meeting was due to take place on Monday, according to several members.
The council members, who provided The Associated Press and other media with images of the Twitter email, spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal.
“Our work to make Twitter a safe and informative place will move faster and more aggressively than ever and we will continue to welcome your ideas on how to achieve this goal,” the email signed “Twitter” said.
The news seemed to add to the turmoil that beset the company after Musk’s takeover. Also on Monday, it was reported that Twitter’s former top security chief, Yoel Roth, had been forced to flee his home amid mounting personal attacks, including from Musk himself.
Media outlets including the Washington Post and CNN reported Monday that Roth and his family fled after Musk’s tweets misrepresented Roth’s academic writings on sexual activity and children.
As head of trust and safety at Twitter, Roth has been involved in many of the platform’s decisions about which posts to remove and which accounts to suspend. His communications with other Twitter officials have been published in recent days as part of what Musk has dubbed “the Twitter Files,” a series of internal documents Musk shared and released on the platform via reporters, including Matt. Taibbi and Bari Weiss.
Musk’s tweets to his tens of millions of followers have for years prompted his followers to shower the targets of his anger with online threats – famously, a participant in the rescue of a boys’ football team trapped in a cave in Thailand that Musk called “pedo.” But now that Musk owns one of the most powerful social networks in the world and has gutted the division that previously controlled online harassment, the stakes are even higher.
Musk’s recent condemnation of Anthony Fauci, the top US health official, has also drawn criticism. Over the weekend, Musk tweeted, “My pronouns are Prosecute/Fauci.”
Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, called Musks’ comment “dangerous” and “disgusting” during a Monday press briefing.
“They are disgusting, and they are divorced from reality, and we will continue to speak out against that and be very clear about that,” Jean-Pierre said Monday. She praised Fauci’s handling of public health crises, including the coronavirus pandemic.
Fauci, who said he plans to retire in December as Joe Biden’s top medical adviser, has dealt with thorny issues surrounding health crises from HIV/AIDS to avian flu and Ebola, and served as an adviser of seven presidents.
Fauci said he received death threats. It has come under criticism from Trump and various conservatives who have opposed safeguards such as vaccinations, social distancing and masking that he advocated in an attempt to limit the lethality of the Covid-19 pandemic.