5 min read

The T&S ally you didn't know you had

Helping your organisation's finance team understand what your T&S teams does, and why it's important to invest time (and money) into proactive safety solutions, could help you get buy-in and investment

I'm Alice Hunsberger. Trust & Safety Insider is my weekly rundown on the topics, industry trends and workplace strategies that trust and safety professionals need to know about to do their job.

This week's newsletter has a more newsy feel — I couldn't not mention the Texas and Florida rulings — but Ben will be back on Friday with his usual Week in Review. I'm also thinking about:

  • An innovative way to get buy-in for T&S initiatives
  • Some new T&S curriculums and classes for personal development

Get in touch if you'd like your questions answered or just want to share your feedback. Here we go! — Alice

Yes, content moderation is protected speech

The US Supreme Court didn't make a definitive decision in the NetChoice content moderation cases — they bounced the cases back down to lower courts for technical reasons — but did clearly state that content moderation decisions are an expressive product of free speech. The Court wrote:

First, presenting a curated and “edited compilation of [third party] speech” is itself protected speech. And second, a State “cannot advance some points of view by burdening the expression of others.” To give government that power is to enable it to control the expression of ideas, promoting those it favors and suppressing those it does not. And that is what the First Amendment protects all of us from.

And they specifically call out how this works with content moderation policies:

The reason Texas is regulating the content moderation policies that the major platforms use for their feeds is to change the speech that will be displayed there. Texas does not like the way those platforms are selecting and moderating content, and wants them to create a different expressive product, communicating different values and priorities. But under the First Amendment, that is a preference Texas may not impose.

In my opinion, this is the obvious decision, but the fact that it got all the way to the Supreme Court is worrying. However, it is no doubt good news for platforms, who will continue to put their values into action through the work of Trust & Safety teams. For now at least.

Mike Masnick did a special mini episode of Ctrl-Alt-Speech explaining the ruling and what it means for speech issues in future. And there's a few other must-reads in case you're catching up:

Finance are your T&S friend

One question I get quite often is from T&S leaders asking how to get executive buy-in and budget approval for their programs before there's an emergency. Unfortunately, there's no one easy answer. It depends on the company culture, priorities, north-star metrics, internal politics, financial outlook, the list goes on.

However, one thing that I know can help: hands-on education of non-T&S professionals about T&S. The more that people understand how nuanced, difficult, and important T&S is, the more they'll respect the profession and be supportive of initiatives.

A recent study of 1,533 financial professionals in the UK and US showed that a whopping 53% of finance professionals have experienced attempted deepfake scamming attacks, with 43% admitting they have fallen victim to an attack. Those are outrageous numbers! A third of the respondents also said they don’t feel well educated enough to tackle deepfakes.

This is a prime opportunity for T&S teams to use their expertise to educate their finance department about scams and deepfakes. So you might want to consider:

  • Setting up a lunch and learn to show what you're doing to protect your platform's users from scams and deepfakes.
  • Attending the finance department's regular meeting to answer questions in a safe and inclusive space.
  • Creating a resource or one-pager about useful tools or processes they can employ to spot scams on their own.
  • Defining an internal escalation system (with the security team, probably) so that employees can send anything suspicious to an expert for review.

In my experience, if you can also get a great business analyst on your side, they can help you "speak finance" and help your request for business investment when you need it. And the best way to get someone on your side is always to help them out a little first.

All of the above will help finance understand directly what your T&S teams does, and why it's important to invest time (and money) into proactive solutions. If you have other ideas, I'd love to hear them.

You ask, I answer

Send me your questions — or things you need help to think through — and I'll answer them in an upcoming edition of T&S Insider, only with Everything in Moderation*

Get in touch

More additions to T&S curriculum

One of the best things to come from the continuing professionalisation of Trust & Safety is the wealth of resources and documentation that have been created. There's no need to reinvent the wheel, and T&S professionals are typically generous in sharing their knowledge and expertise. Two new additions to the growing list of resources were added recently:

Safety By Design (Trust & Safety Professional Association)
This course makes the case for Safety by Design and proactively considering the potential for harm before it happens. The course defines harm, discusses how to implement a Safety by Design program, and includes a framework and measurement criteria. This is part of the larger T&S Curriculum from the Trust & Safety Professional Association.

EU Terrorist Content Online Regulation Course (Tech Against Terrorism Europe)
This course is aimed at hosting service providers and their employees, as well as students interested in T&S. It outlines what the TCO regulation is, and then goes through the entire T&S system, including drafting guidelines, identifying terrorist content, and responding to removal orders. A login is required, but free to create. There's also an interactive guide available.

Further T&S curriculums/ knowledge bases:

If you know of any others, please let me know!

Also worth reading

YouTube’s Rulings on Gaza War Videos Spark Internal Backlash (Wired)
Why? A good example of how interpreting and enforcing against policies can be nuanced and difficult.

Considering the Ethics of AI Assistants (Tech Policy Press)
Why? Many say that AI assistants are the future, but what are the possible risks?

Google Says AI Could Break Reality (404 Media)
Why? A look at a recent report from Google, which says that generative AI can be used to distort collective understanding of reality and undermine trust, but that generating content which causes those harms isn't necessarily against the content policies of the generative platforms.

You can buy this shirt, too! (And yes, there's an extrovert version)