On Wednesday, the Global Alliance Against Digital Hate and Extremism sent a letter to Linda Yaccarino, the new CEO of Twitter, with demands to take steps to make the platform safer for users and to protect democracies around the world.
The Global Alliance Against Digital Hate and Extremism is an international movement, supported by more than 70 civil society organizations from across the world, mobilizing collective action for a safe, fair, and just online experience for everyone.
The Alliance asked Yaccarino to reinstate and update Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council that was dissolved in 2022 under Elon Musk’s leadership. A number of the organizations that are part of the Alliance were members of the Council and have expressed concern that since the disintegration of the Council, Twitter’s content is even more rife with hate speech, disinformation, and other harmful material. Twitter continues to seethe with disinformation and hate, including Holocaust denial, antisemitism, lies about the LGBTQ+ population, anti-Muslim hatred, and misogynistic material. Twitter was recently called the worst social media platform when it comes to safety for LGBTQ+ people.
“Members of our Alliance have witnessed first-hand the real world implications across the globe of allowing hate and lies on Twitter,” said Wendy Via, Alliance member and co-founder of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism. “We cannot strengthen democracies and protect human rights while Twitter amplifies, rewards, and profits from hate, extremism, and disinformation. Linda Yaccarino has the opportunity to clean Twitter up and ensure that the platform stops contributing to harms, and she’d be wise to do that.”
As written in the letter: “The council of nearly 100 civil, human rights, and other organizations served a vital purpose to keep Twitter safe for its users, especially when it comes to hate speech, disinformation, child exploitation, suicide, and self-harm. The abrupt disbanding of this advisory committee has played a large part in Twitter’s content moderation efforts becoming nearly nonexistent as well as Twitter becoming an unsafe platform for its users, as advocates have shown and former members of the council have argued.”
The Alliance noted that given the dozens of elections to be held in 2024, Twitter must not delay in reinstating the Trust and Safety Council and implementing other efforts to improve content moderation efforts to stop disinformation campaigns from undermining elections and causing political violence, especially in languages other than English.
“As we look ahead to democratic elections in more than 70 countries next year, it is essential that Twitter does its part to ensure they are free and fair,” said Kyle Taylor, Founder of Fair Vote UK. “With two insurrections in the past two years, we don’t need any more evidence to know platforms like Twitter play a significant role. Action isn’t an option, it’s essential.”
In addition to the reinstating the Trust and Safety Council, the Alliance called on Twitter to:
- Reinstate the human rights team.
- End exemptions from content moderation for the politically powerful and influencers globally.
- Clarify, improve, and enforce their “Violent Organizations” and “Hateful Conduct” policies.
- Expand and ensure proportionate resources for content moderation in all languages and cultural competency for all regions where Twitter operates.
- Fix and design algorithms to end the amplification of disinformation, hate and extremism in all languages and regions where Twitter operates.
- Ensure use of AI does not contribute to the spread of disinformation and is not able to be abused by bad actors.
Additional quotes from Alliance members:
“Aggressive propaganda in support of Putin’s deadly war on Ukraine is rampant on Twitter and we call upon the platform to stop enabling glorification of extreme violence, vilification of refugees and calls for genocide.” Rafal Pankowski, co-founder NEVER AGAIN Association.
“In a digital age, it is vital to ensure users around the world are well-informed and protected from the real-world harms that are perpetuated by disinformation online. Twitter is widely used by Latinos, who rely on social media for information, but are often targeted with disinformation. Reinstating the Trust and Safety Council is an effective step towards combating disinformation through transparency and accountability measures.” Brenda Victoria Castillo, President & CEO, National Hispanic Media Coalition
“Amid an increasingly polarized digital landscape, Twitter’s responsibility to proactively combat online hate speech and disinformation has never been more critical. The World Jewish Congress calls on Twitter to prioritize efforts against hate, disinformation, and extremism on its platform. As the organization representing more than 100 Jewish communities on six continents, we see firsthand the deleterious effects of unchecked digital hate and antisemitism on individuals and Jewish communities worldwide. We stand ready to work with Twitter to transform itself into a space where ideas are discussed and challenged, rather than abused.” Yfat Barak-Cheney, Director of Technology and Human Rights of the World Jewish Congress