What is Trust and Safety?

Written by Harriet O'Connor

09 January 2024

The buzzwords "Trust and Safety" are becoming increasingly prevalent, but are not always fully understood.

As our engagement with online platforms and communities deepens, the importance of Trust and Safety takes center stage. In this article, we demystify the concept, highlighting the pivotal role it plays in safeguarding our digital interactions. With the rise of generative AI presenting new challenges, the need for robust Trust and Safety measures has never been more crucial.

 

What is Trust and Safety?

So, what is Trust and Safety? At its core, Trust and Safety refers to the measures and protocols put in place to protect users from various online threats, including fraud, scams, and many other deceptive practices. Trust and Safety professionals are the unsung heroes safeguarding the digital interactions we often take for granted.

Unlike singularly focused terms such as 'fraud prevention,' which primarily addresses the identification and mitigation of financially fraudulent activities, Trust and Safety casts a wider net. It encompasses a holistic strategy that not only tackles fraud but also ensures a wholesome user experience by addressing issues like harassment, abuse, and content moderation. Trust and Safety strives to create a secure space where users can trust the platform, communicate authentically, and engage without fear of potential harms. It goes beyond mere prevention, aiming to create a digital ecosystem grounded in trust, transparency, and user well-being.

 

The Role of a Trust and Safety Team

Trust and Safety Teams work tirelessly to identify and combat threats, fostering a community where users can transact, communicate, and engage safely. Typically organized with a mix of experts in data analysis, behavioral analytics, and pattern detection, Trust and Safety Teams collaborate to monitor user activity, detect suspicious patterns, and address potential risks promptly. While larger platforms often have well-established Trust and Safety Teams, it's an emerging concept for many smaller or newer platforms that may still be adapting to the need for such specialized roles. 

What is Trust and Safety? Trust and Safety Team.

A recent insightful article by Annalee Newitz highlights the critical role of Trust and Safety teams in the tech industry, particularly with the rise of propaganda and online harassment. Newitz sheds light on instances like Elon Musk's decision to reduce X's Trust and Safety team, resulting in a flood of spam and harassment, ultimately eroding user trust and causing economic repercussions. The piece also references YouTube's successful transformation of its comments section, once a haven for insults and scams, through investments in Trust and Safety improvements. However, Newitz emphasizes that the nature of Trust and Safety work often leads to its underappreciation, especially when executed seamlessly. Despite their crucial role in maintaining online integrity, Trust and Safety teams often go unnoticed until their absence becomes palpable, reinforcing their essential yet frequently overlooked contributions to the digital landscape.

 

What Type of Businesses Need a Trust and Safety Team?

Trust and Safety teams have emerged more rapidly in recent years, with the need for them increasing as our lives have become more digital. Often evolving from customer service roles, Trust and Safety professionals are crucial for online companies navigating a range of abuses, such as scams, fake accounts, fake reviews, counterfeit activities, and content abuse. In these scenarios, Trust and Safety provides a comprehensive defense against a spectrum of threats that could compromise the integrity of online platforms.

Pasabi’s cutting-edge AI technology assists Trust and Safety teams by proactively highlighting fraud rings and pinpointing the worst offenders, providing concrete evidence to enforce actions against bad actors and the crimes they commit.

 

Challenges in Trust and Safety

The rapid evolution of technology, particularly the development of Generative AI, has caused a myriad of challenges for Trust and Safety, while also increasing its importance. Generative AI introduces advanced tools that can produce realistic and deceptive content, amplifying the potential for the spread of misinformation and the creation of fake identities. One of the foremost hurdles lies in the detection of deep fakes - sophisticated AI-generated content that blurs the lines between reality and fabrication. Being used by bad actors on dating apps, for example, they dupe unsuspecting users and cause untold harm. Often resulting in financial loss through crypto scams, deep fakes also leave devastating emotional effects on users caused by their deceitful actions.

Another challenge emerges from fraudsters using AI tools like ChatGPT to craft scams fluently in their victim's native language and replicate their efforts at scale, making it increasingly harder to identify threats based on content alone.

What is Trust and Safety? Trust and Safety Team.

Trust and Safety teams must, therefore, continuously refine their methods to identify and counteract these deceptive elements, ensuring the integrity of user-generated content. Staying one step ahead of new fraud tactics is an ongoing battle, as malicious actors constantly adapt their strategies to exploit vulnerabilities. The relentless pace of technological evolution demands a proactive approach, with Trust and Safety teams compelled to anticipate emerging threats and recalibrate their defense mechanisms swiftly.

 

Example: Fake Reviews

An example of the evolving challenges posed by Generative AI is evident in the world of fake reviews. In the pre-generative AI era, it was feasible to identify non-genuine reviews based on content alone, due to cues like repetition and poor language. However, with the advancements in these AI tools, this conventional approach is no longer effective. Recognizing this shift, Pasabi has adapted to the new challenge by developing software that transcends mere content analysis. Our innovative solution looks beyond review content, meticulously analyzing patterns of suspicious behavior to detect bad actors. This approach allows Pasabi to stay ahead of the curve, providing a robust defense against the ever-changing landscape of online threats, including the deceptive AI content tactics employed in the domain of fake reviews.

What is Trust and Safety? Trust and Safety Team.

 

Why You Should Have a Trust and Safety Framework

Establishing a Trust and Safety framework is a necessity. It extends beyond mitigating threats to directly influencing a platform's reputation, credibility, and, most importantly, the safety of its users. The absence of a robust Trust and Safety mechanism not only leaves users exposed to potential harms like scams and abuse, but also undermines the platform's credibility, leading to a loss of user trust. In a digital landscape where trust is paramount, a well-defined Trust and Safety framework is not just a protective shield - it is the cornerstone upon which a platform's success and user loyalty are built.

 

The Trust and Safety Community

For those eager to delve deeper into the realm of Trust and Safety, there are many educational resources and networking opportunities available, such as The Trust & Safety Professional Association (TSPA). Serving as an independent membership association, TSPA is a vital hub for professionals shaping the principles and policies that define acceptable behavior and content online. By becoming a TSPA member, individuals gain access to a wealth of events, programming, and, most significantly, a supportive trust and safety community.

What is Trust and Safety? Trust and Safety Team.

 

Protecting Your Platform's Future

To sum up, in the age of Generative AI, where new challenges surface with every technological advance, the role of Trust and Safety has never been more important, acting as the frontline defense against emerging threats. While establishing a Trust and Safety framework may seem daunting, you don't have to face these challenges alone - Pasabi's cutting-edge technology is here to simplify the task by providing the data and tools needed to protect your platform and users from potential threats. Trust and Safety matters, and with Pasabi, you have a trusted ally in navigating this critical terrain.

Reach out to a member of our team today to ensure a secure and authentic online future for your platform and users.