Twitter introduces new specialist council to regulate online abuse and threats

Twitter has partnered with a number of specialist charities to create a global expert safety council that will work to establish a slate of anti-harassment features and help protect users from online abuse and threats.

Twitter

The council, which is made up of 40 organisations and experts from 13 regions around the world, comes in response to years of criticism directed at Twitter for failing to provide adequate protection for users who have been subjected to extreme abuse or threats.

The inaugural members of the regulatory body include mental health charity the Samaritans, the advice charity the Safer Internet Centre, and the Internet Watch Foundation, a specialist organisation that deals with criminal content including child abuse material.

Regulating social media remains an extremely complex battle between freedom of expression and protecting users from abusive comments. Twitter, which sees an average of 500 million tweets every day, acknowledges as much in the announcement which said tackling the issue “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.”

Twitter says it will develop the council with a “global and inclusive approach” so as to collate a diversity of voices. It plans to do this by working with safety advocates, academics and community groups centred on tackling abuse, harassment, and bullying, as well as mental health and suicide prevention.

Twitter UK’s head of policy, Nick Pickles, admitted that “I don’t think we will have all the answers, but it is important to seek expertise in these still very young issues.”

Speaking to the Guardian Pickles said: “Safety and freedom of speech go hand in hand.

“The unique thing about Twitter as a public platform is that what I have to say can be seen by anyone anywhere in the world, and it has the power to challenge views. Twitter’s sum is greater than its parts.”

He added that the company remains hopeful that the council will give Twitter users the confidence to speak out on subjects that matter to them without the fear of being “silenced by the mob.”

The changes are likely to be better received than the news that Twitter is planning to introduce an algorithm that will display either the most relevant or most timely tweets, rather than only are the most recent.

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