Reflections on Trustcon: Trust & Safety + Wellness

Written by PJ Rohall

04 August 2023


I have finally decompressed from TrustCon. It was an overload of stimulating convos, new T&S connections, and food/caffeine. All things I love.

Another thing I love: prioritizing wellness and mental health. And that theme ran throughout TrustCon.



Many conversations revolved around the wellness of content moderators. Content moderators are the frontline, unsung heroes of Trust & Safety. They are exposed to disturbing content to ensure platform users are not subjected to it. They are operations driven which means they work off-hours and are measured heavily on metrics like productivity/efficiency/accuracy. This combination of factors makes maintaining wellness a top priority for T&S teams. 

Content moderator wellness comes in a variety of forms. Balancing workload, mental health resources and internal support structure are some of the ways it’s delivered. There are even outsourced companies, such as Zevo Health, that can be contracted as a fully integrated workplace wellbeing provider. 

With my roots in the fraud prevention side of Trust & Safety, this is a completely new phenomenon to me. Fraud investigators are the content moderator equivalent on a fraud prevention team. While there is some care given to workload balance for fraud fighters, there’s nothing close to this emphasis placed on wellness. To be fair, content moderators are exposed to more awful things, however frontline fraud fighters deal with some rough situations as well. Their wellbeing should also be looked after and I hope to see the T&S wellness initiatives move into the fraud prevention space.


Trust by Design

There were many conversations around “Trust by Design”. Put simply, making sure your product teams are designing products that prioritize trust and safety. Sometimes, T&S gets siloed in an organization and does not have the appropriate stakeholders when developing and launching products. When this happens, products go to market with the primary intent of delighting customers and growing users. While this is important, not considering T&S pitfalls creates numerous challenges.

T&S pitfalls cover many issues, but one of them is prioritizing the wellbeing of their users (especially kids and young adults). For example, designing products that consider their mental health, not just driving higher engagement. Or considering how a really cool feature could be used by a bad actor for nefarious purposes. 

It’s essential T&S has a seat at the product table because T&S’ers think differently. They were trained to think how product features could be taken advantage of. And quite frankly, they are conditioned to think just how fu**** up human beings can be. It’s not the most positive way to think, but it’s unfortunately the reality we live.


Supporting Victims

The wellness theme extends into victims of bad actors. Not all fraud and abuse is created equal. A stolen credit card and unauthorized purchase does not equate to being part of a pig butchering scam where you lose your life savings and experience psychological trauma. The wellness of victims in the T&S space needs to be considered.

This one is a bit trickier as T&S teams have less control of how they support victims. For example, victims of scams often don’t self-report due to shame and embarrassment. And for the ones who do… how does the company where the scam originated realistically provide support? There is no simple answer.

However, what’s important to note is: 

  • These victims need support and that’s an action various private/public companies need to figure out how to provide.
  • It’s just another way wellbeing and mental health run hand in hand with Trust and Safety.

Some folks sign up for jobs because they pay well, provide a work-life balance, or allow them to travel. 

T&S folks sign up because they are purpose driven. 

They believe in the greater good their jobs achieve, even if they have to crawl through shi* to get there. Now, this doesn’t mean there aren’t awesome career paths, compensation, perks, etc. for T&Sers. It’s just not at the core of why they enlist.

TrustCon brought this to light to me, along with the undeniable and essential thread of wellness that runs through Trust & Safety.