WASHINGTON — On Tuesday, Free Press joined representatives from the ADL, the Asian American Foundation, Color Of Change, the George W. Bush Presidential Center and the NAACP in a meeting with Elon Musk to discuss Twitter’s commitment to community standards, election integrity and content moderation.
“Twitter will not allow anyone who was de-platformed for violating Twitter rules back on [the] platform until we have a clear process for doing so, which will take at least a few more weeks,” he tweeted. “Twitter's content moderation council will include representatives with widely divergent views, which will certainly include the civil rights community and groups who face hate-fueled violence.”
Prior to the meeting with Musk, Free Press, Media Matters for America and Accountable Tech organized a mass sign-on letter in which nearly 50 civil-society groups called on Twitter's top-20 advertisers to demand that Musk commit to brand and user safety. The open letter urges advertisers to suspend Twitter ads globally if Musk can’t commit to enforcing the brand- and community-safety rules already on the platform’s books. Already a major ad brokerage, IPG, has advised clients, including American Express, Coca-Cola and Johnson & Johnson, to pause advertising on Twitter for the next week until the company gives more details about its plans to protect trust and safety.
Last week, Free Press released Empty Promises: Inside Big Tech’s Weak Effort to Fight Hate and Lies in 2022, a report revealing the ongoing failures of Meta, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube to curb the spread of election disinformation and extremism across their networks. The report was part of the ongoing Change the Terms initiative, which has issued a series of corporate policy recommendations that would help ensure that the world's largest social-media networks curtail the spread of hate and disinformation on their platforms.
Free Press Co-CEO Jessica J. González, who attended the Musk meeting, said:
“Yesterday, I joined colleagues in a frank conversation with Elon Musk. I shared my concerns that hate, harassment and conspiracy theories proliferate on the platform, and underscored the disproportionate harm that unmoderated social-media spaces inflict on women and people of color. I asked him to retain and fully enforce election-integrity measures.
“We had a productive discussion, and as Musk’s Twitter thread demonstrates, he made a few commitments. First, he agreed that he would not put anyone kicked off Twitter for violating its trust and safety rules back on the platform before the U.S. midterm elections next week; and he promised that any replatforming following the election will involve a transparent process. Second, he agreed to retain and enforce election-integrity measures and assured us that all staff responsible for this work would have access to Twitter’s tools by the end of this week. Finally, he promised that he would consult with civil- and human-rights experts and those who have been targeted online as he develops new content-moderation policies.
“These commitments are a good first step but really just the beginning of a long process. As the report Free Press published last week shows, hate, abuse and conspiracy theories are rampant on Twitter. There is much more to do to make Twitter a space for robust and healthy dialogue. And of course, actions speak louder than words. We’ll be evaluating Musk closely and assessing whether he backs up his promises.
“With our four-dozen partners, we will continue to pressure Twitter’s largest advertisers to push Musk to retain and actually enforce existing content-moderation rules and community standards. If Musk won’t prioritize safety on the platform, then advertisers should refuse to spend money to see their content alongside lies, harassment and extremism.
“We must act immediately to disrupt the real-world violence that social-media companies have helped fuel, including the violent attack against Nancy Pelosi’s husband, the mass shooting targeting Latinos at an El Paso Texas Walmart, the shootings at Black churches and Jewish temples, the violence against Muslims, and so much more. This is about our communities’ ability to speak freely, yes, but also to live free from hate-fueled violence.”