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Published On: February 8th, 2023|Tags: , |11.3 min read|

Trust & Safety and Content Moderation are the initiatives that preserve the security and well-being of internet users, online communities, digital platforms, and the emerging metaverse. Even though they are related in some points, they are two separate concepts serving different purposes and requiring unique approaches and solutions.

Regarding Trust & Safety, its objective is to take proactive steps to protect online users from harm and ensure a safe experience in the digital realm. This can include implementing user verification processes, setting clear community guidelines, and reporting mechanisms for damage incidents. Considering Content Moderation, the undertaking aims to monitor and remove any digital content that violates community guidelines or is deemed inappropriate or offensive. This involves reviewing and filtering user-generated content and taking appropriate action when necessary.

Understanding the distinction between the two allows businesses to develop more effective and targeted approaches to managing risk and promoting a safe and positive user experience in the digital environment.

Trust & Safety: the overall protection of online interactions and users

Trust & Safety (T&S) encompasses all the policies, processes, technologies, and tools that work together to establish a secure online environment. By adhering to these measures, companies can ensure that the virtual space is a welcoming place for users, protected from threats that may come in many forms, such as cybercrime, malicious activity, and harmful behaviour.

Colourful umbrellas that symbolise protection and safety.

A lack of a thorough Trust & Safety plan and initiative exposes the online activities of organisations to the risk of damaging their brand’s reputation, losing users and facing potential financial and image harm. When leaving individuals vulnerable to harassment and ignoring regulatory frameworks regarding user data and content posting can lead to severe consequences. When online communities are unsafe for users, they will likely seek alternative options – Iulian Bacain, Sales and Marketing VP at Conectys, says.

Trust & Safety brings tangible benefits to organisations that want to protect individuals from harassment and abuse on the internet. It enables the retention of users and attracts new ones. It helps maintain a positive reputation for their brands in the digital reality and simultaneously allows them to avoid financial and reputational harm.

Our recommended approach for a Trust & Safety strategy focuses primarily on the following key components, which can be selected and combined according to your needs or changing circumstances:

  • Adherence to legal and regulatory requirements that define acceptable behaviour and activities within the virtual platform and prohibits harmful actions. All combined with ongoing assessment and enhancement of Trust & Safety policies. They are crucial in ensuring that the online environment maintains security and compliance concerning data security and digital content regulations.
  • User privacy and data protection that cover the measures aimed to protect users’ privacy and personal information, such as financial data and personal identification information. This can include implementing encryption algorithms to protect data, regularly conducting security audits and vulnerability assessments, and using multi-factor authentication to establish the authenticity of users. As a result, the platforms can be prevented from hacking, theft, data breaches and other malicious activity.
  • Content Moderation that allows for reviewing and removing inappropriate user-generated content, harassing or violating established guidelines, laws, or community standards. All to ensure the platforms’ content is appropriate, respectful, free of hate speeches, harassment, and other harmful behaviour, and under the guidelines and regulations.
  • Virtual asset protection and fraud detection tools that help to identify and prevent unauthorised transactions, regularly review user activity for suspicious behaviour and take steps to secure the storage and transfer of virtual assets.
  • User reporting and incident response framework that encompass specific procedures and tools to establish secure and unchanging records of user activity, enabling the individuals to report potential policy violations and facilitating prompt and effective responses by the Trust & Safety team to address such incidents.
  • Real-time monitoring incorporates technical and human oversight and allows proactively detecting potential violations in real-time and responding promptly by taking appropriate actions to address them.

Content Moderation to stand guard over the virtual content

Content moderation is one of the online platforms’ most common forms of security governance. It allows moderation of a wide range of user-generated written, audio or visual content. These include, for instance, hate speech and symbols, graphic or violent material, pornography, harassment and bullying, terrorist content, fake news and misinformation, spam and scam content, personal information and privacy violations or intellectual property violations. As a result, with content moderation, you can maintain the content’s quality and credibility, protect your digital community and brand from legal and reputational risks, and enhance user trust and engagement.

A few elements of the scrabble game creating the sentence "you are safe here".

The specific types of content that need to be moderated also depend on the platform’s terms of service and the jurisdiction in which it operates. There are also a few possibilities of how to moderate content effectively and efficiently in line with the needs.

Types of Content Moderation: proactive and reactive approach

There are typically two types of content moderation: proactive and reactive. They both play essential roles in maintaining a safe and respectful online community.

  1. Pre-moderation enables screening the content before it goes live on your site while preventing it from being harmful or inappropriate. You can realise it through a human moderator who decides whether to publish or reject the content while being complemented with filters and algorithms supporting the human effort.
  2. Post-moderation involves instant reviewing activity after the content is published. It can be done through manual moderation, including reviewing, removing or editing content, and supported by user reporting systems, community guidelines, and real-time moderation tools. This type of moderation is usually necessary when proactive measures are not enough to prevent harmful content from reaching the public.

A perfect combination: of human touch and technology

You can achieve excellent results in content moderation by combining human, automated, and AI-driven methods. By utilising the strengths of each technique and balancing them appropriately and proportionally, you can be sure to provide the services in a timely, accurate, and equitable manner.

  1. Community-based moderation allows for the personal touch and context-based decision-making that technology alone cannot provide. For example, human moderators can understand the nuances and subtleties of language and communication that AI-based systems may not be able to recognise. Humans can also provide empathy and comprehension when dealing with sensitive situations, such as when users report harassment or abuse.
  2. On the other hand, technology can provide automation, scalability, and real-time monitoring capabilities that that humans cannot achieve alone. For example, AI-based systems can quickly scan and identify potential violations, such as hate speech or graphic content, and flag them for human review. Technology can also provide transparency by creating tamper-proof records of user activity, which can be used to investigate and resolve disputes.

A short guide on shaping content moderation

Develop community guidelines and standards for acceptable behaviour and content.
Be transparent about moderation policies and decisions.
Maintain a human moderation team to review flagged content and make final decisions.
Provide user-friendly reporting mechanisms for users to flag potentially harmful content.
Implement automated tools to detect and remove prohibited content, such as hate speech, violent images, and explicit material.
Explain clear consequences for those who violate community guidelines, such as temporary or permanent account suspension.
Balance the rights of freedom of expression of individual users with the overall community’s well-being.
Provide users with an appeals process if they believe that content has been wrongly removed or restricted.

Trust & Safety vs Content Moderation: similarities and differences

Trust & Safety and Content Moderation aim to ensure a safe and positive user experience on an online platform, mitigate risks and prevent harmful or illegal activity. You can realise them both using a combination of technology and human intervention.

  • Trust & Safety is a broader concept than Content Moderation, covering a range of activities related to maintaining security, such as data protection, user support, fraud prevention, and content moderation. As Content Moderation is focused on reviewing and managing the materials created and shared by users, it is usually considered a part of the overall T&S strategy.
  • Trust & Safety may proactively address security and safety issues, whereas Content Moderation is typically reactive and focused on responding to reported or flagged content.
  • Trust & Safety often refers to more operational and technical activities, such as monitoring for and addressing security breaches. In contrast, Content Moderation is typically more focused on the human review and decision-making.

Personal data and privacy protection in the digital world

Protecting personal data must be a top priority for any entity operating online, where data can be easily collected and processed. It is, therefore, crucial to implement measures that prevent unauthorised access, misuse, or theft of personal information. This data can include demographic information, contact details, user behaviour, user-generated content, social media activity and more.

People using protected and safe internet, like two kids, a young woman and an elder couple.

Transparency in data processing practices is essential for protecting users’ rights. All entities must limit data collection to what is necessary, provide individuals with information about the type of data being collected and why, and give them control over their data, including access, modification, and deletion possibility. It is also a must-have option to include techniques such as encryption, secure storage, and restricted access controls.

More than that, obtaining explicit consent for data collection, storage, and processing is crucial, and manipulative or invasive data-driven profiling should be avoided. Staying up-to-date with changing regulations is key to ensuring continued compliance with privacy laws. Regularly reviewing and updating privacy policies and working with legal and privacy experts is necessary to remain informed and protect personal data and privacy.

Balancing privacy and freedom: the Trust & Safety dilemma

Protecting personal data privacy also raises concerns about censorship, as the efforts to secure personal information can sometimes restrict freedom of speech and expression. Trust & Safety and Content Moderation strategies must find a solution that ensures both. One practical approach is to use a combination of human and automated moderation, as well as AI tools, to identify and remove illegal or harmful content while preserving legitimate speech.

When and why is outsourcing T&S or Content Moderation the right choice?

Delegating Trust & Safety or Content Moderation services to the outsourcing company may be the right choice for organisations that:

  1. Lack of in-house resources or expertise in the field, or a high volume of customer inquiries or moderation tasks that cannot be handled by their existing staff appropriately.
  2. Want to ensure 24/7 availability of services and their consistent quality without bearing a significant investment in humans, technology and procedures.
  3. Plan to reduce operational costs while improving efficiency and scalability.
  4. Shift their focus from managing T&S or content moderation to their core business operations and direct efforts towards driving growth and hitting business goals more efficiently.

However, choosing a reputable and experienced BPO partner is critical to ensure professional services and a successful partnership.

An ideal BPO provider for T&S and content moderation should possess a deep understanding of the complexities involved in the concepts. It must provide relevant knowledge of the latest security strategies and regulations regarding data protection and privacy, proofed experience and capability to handle a high volume of digital content continuously and multilingually, strict adherence to privacy and security protocols, and robust technology infrastructure to stay ahead of potential threats. Specialisation in specific industries and strong communication and collaboration skills are also advantageous.

Then, the benefits that an outsourcing partner can bring to a business are vast, including improved efficiency, access to expert knowledge, and cost and time savings. The most important benefit, however, is the creation of secure and safe experiences for users, customers, and brands.

Choosing Between Trust & Safety and Content Moderation: Understanding When One is Better and When the Other is Sufficient

Ultimately, the choice between Trust & Safety and Content Moderation depends on the specific needs of the platform operator or industry requirements.

Trust & Safety is better when the primary concern is to protect user data, privacy, and security. For instance, in finance, healthcare, or government industries, the highest priority is to ensure the protection and confidentiality of sensitive user information. A comprehensive Trust & Safety program must detect and mitigate potential risks, threats, and violations in these cases.

On the other hand, Content Moderation is sufficient when an organisation needs to manage and review user-generated content for inappropriate or offensive material. For example, in industries such as social media, gaming, or e-commerce, the main aim is to ensure that user-generated content aligns with community guidelines and does not violate terms of service.

What is worth remembering?

Trust & Safety and Content Moderation are companies’ distinct but related focus areas.
Trust & Safety primarily protects user data, privacy, and security. Content Moderation is a part of the overall T&S strategy.
Content Moderation allows for managing and reviewing user-generated content for inappropriate or offensive material.
When understanding the differences between T&S and Content Moderation, you can choose the right approach based on the business’s specific requirements.
The selection between the two will depend on the organisation’s specific needs, priorities and industry specialisation.
Outsourcing the services may be a wise choice for companies seeking additional resources and expertise to expand their core business.

Learn more about the Trust & Safety and Content Moderation services offered by Conectys by visiting our website or by reaching out to us to schedule a meeting at your convenience.

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