Twitter has announced a new “Trust and Safety council” for the service comprised of fifty organisations, including controversial web series Feminist Frequency, with an overall goal purportedly to maintain an environment where people “feel safe expressing themselves” on the platform.
“To ensure people can continue to express themselves freely and safely on Twitter, we must provide more tools and policies,” states Twitter’s Head of “Global Policy Outreach” Patricia Cartes in an official blog post.
With hundreds of millions of Tweets sent per day, the volume of content on Twitter is massive, which makes it extraordinarily complex to strike the right balance between fighting abuse and speaking truth to power. It requires a multi-layered approach where each of our 320 million users has a part to play, as do the community of experts working for safety and free expression.
That’s why we are announcing the formation of the Twitter Trust & Safety Council, a new and foundational part of our strategy to ensure that people feel safe expressing themselves on Twitter.
The council includes large organisations such as The Samaritans and GLAAD, but also lists a few more controversial members. Notorious anti-free speech video series Feminist Frequency is featured on the council, as well as Islamic research centre The Wahid Institute, launching already critical users of the social network to protest over their inclusion.
[Patrick] So … Twitter is appointing a council of grievance organizations to police users. Us.
Not a single free speecher in the bunch.
— Popehat (@Popehat) February 9, 2016
Twitter is about free speech, truth to power, and trying not to appear like a sinister corporation out of 1984https://t.co/mCzzDrGlHe
— MoDawah (@kingofdawah) February 9, 2016
— NorBdelta (@NorBdelta) February 9, 2016
— Sonny Bunch (@SonnyBunch) February 9, 2016
I LOVE JACK, the CEO who wants to protect me from everything.
— Daddy Warpig (@Daddy_Warpig) February 9, 2016
Face of Feminist Frequency Anita Sarkeesian set a notoriously low bar for what constitutes as “harassment” by complaining to the United Nations that people said “you suck” to her on the Internet.
So, Anita Sarkeesian has now been put on a twitter safety council.
This should be interesting… pic.twitter.com/s08hzP1115
— Cringe Crew (@CringeCrew) February 9, 2016
#RIPTwitter became one of the biggest trending hashtags on Saturday after news broke that the company was preparing to re-order user timelines from the current real-time structure to an organised algorithm in a similar way that Facebook displays its content. After the consumer revolt made headlines in a number of news outlets, CEO Jack Dorsey published a tweet stating, “I want you to know we’re always listening”, but it appears Dorsey hasn’t been listening very well.
Hello Twitter! Regarding #RIPTwitter: I want you all to know we're always listening. We never planned to reorder timelines next week.
— Jack (@jack) February 6, 2016
Twitter has faced a tremendous amount of heat recently for their anti-free speech and authoritarian tactics, so it is understandable that users feel betrayed when the platform introduces yet another layer to the mix, just days after Dorsey promised that he was listening to users’ concerns.
Twitter stands for freedom of expression, speaking truth to power, and empowering dialogue. That starts with safety. https://t.co/PbEoM1lCyb
— Jack (@jack) February 9, 2016
Jack Dorsey has no idea what freedom of expression means, nor does he know who holds power in American society. https://t.co/qKTDxKRH3a
— Milo Yiannopoulos ✘ (@Nero) February 9, 2016
The company’s shareholders and investors can hardly be pleased either, with the value of the company dropping significantly since Dorsey’s authoritarian shakeups to the platform.
Users of the social network are getting fed up with Twitter being used for political gain, and many accounts are now laying low for fear of losing access to the service simply for having the wrong politics.
Charlie Nash is a libertarian writer, memeologist, and child prodigy. When he is not writing, he can usually be found chilling at the Korova Milk Bar, mingling with the infamous. You can follow him on Twitter at @MrNashington.