Twitter has long been criticized for failing to address the growing problem of threats and abuse on its social network and on Safer Internet Day, the company launched a new initiative which seeks to specifically combat these issues. The mandate of its Trust & Safety Council is to ensure "people feel safe expressing themselves on Twitter."
The council, which will provide inputs on Twitter's safety products, policies and programs, will have 40 founding members which will include safety advocates, academics, researchers, community organizations and grassroots advocacy groups.
"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," Twitter said in a statement announcing the move.
Among the forty founding members are the suicide-prevention charity Samaritans and the Internet Watch Foundation, a specialist organization that deals with criminal content, including child abuse material.
The problem of dealing with abuse on Twitter is well known within the company. Prior to his departure last year, then-CEO Dick Costolo said in an internal memo: "We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we’ve sucked at it for years."
The company has taken some steps to fight abuse on its service, launching a feature last year which allowed users to share block lists with others who may have been victim of harassment online. Also last year, Twitter introduced new "enforcement actions" which it said would make it easier for the company to combat cyber bullying. It also announced tripling the size of its safety staff.
Dealing with abuse on its platform is just one problem facing the beleaguered micro-blogging site. On Monday, the company's share price closed at a historic low of $14.89, having traded at $26 per share when it started trading on the New York Stock Exchange in November 2013.
The stock lows follow reports of Twitter making a big change to the product that would fundamentally shift the real-time nature of the site. A BuzzFeed report Friday said Twitter would radically alter the timeline with an algorithm that showed tweets based on popularity, instead of in chronological order. That news prompted #RIPTwitter to trend on its own network and led CEO Jack Dorsey to comment.