Important And Needed New Report: Scaling Trust On The Web | #childsafety | #kids | #chldern | #parents | #schoolsafey

from the we-need-more-trust dept

We talk a lot about the concept of “trust & safety” at internet companies, but the entire concept is relatively new, and still very confusing to many, including some who work in the field!

Over the last few years we’ve seen a growing movement to organize and somewhat “professionalize” the space, with very important and useful new organizations like the Trust & Safety Professional Association (TSPA) and the Digital Trust & Safety Partnership, both of which are filling in important gaps and helping to make “trust & safety” a much clearer concept and profession.

But, still, there is plenty of confusion, especially for those with no experience at all, who (extremely incorrectly) think “trust & safety” is a euphemism for “censors” or something similar. In fact, the trust & safety role springs naturally from people trying to do exactly what the name says: make sure a web service is trustworthy and safe for users. Usually, this starts with dealing with spam, but quickly picks up on other areas of problematic content around abuse, harassment, child sexual abuse material, and copyright infringement.

In part because this space is somewhat new and only just forming as a concept, it was exciting to be a part of a task force, organized by the Atlantic Council, over the last few months to explore what it means to create a trustworthy future web. The task force brought together a wide variety of experts studying all different aspects of the trust & safety world, from industry, academia, the media, civil society and more.

On Wednesday, the task force released the output of the effort, a thorough paper: Scaling Trust on the Web. The full document clocks in at 150 pages, but the main report is really just the first 50 or so pages, with six annexes included that explore different specific areas, including things like building better tooling for trust and safety, exploring the gaming ecosystem in particular, and looking at trust & safety in a federated world (we just had a podcast on this topic).

There’s also an annex on “respecting children as rights holders,” which does an important job of flipping the terrible current narrative that seems to ignore that children have rights themselves regarding the use of the internet, while various politicians, often egged on by the media, keep pushing to take away the rights of kids to make use of the internet.

There’s a lot in the report, but I think it’s an important step forward for those who are actually looking to understand not just the concept of “trust & safety,” but literally what it means to build a “trustworthy” web that enables so much of the good things that made all of us excited to use the web in the first place. And given just how many hysterical, hyperbolic reports we’ve seen lately about the web being horrible or whatever, it’s nice to have a careful, thoughtful, forward-looking report that is grounded in reality.

A big shoutout and kudos goes to Kat Duffy at the Atlantic Council who wrangled this project, bringing together dozens of very opinionated experts, sometimes with very different views, and pulling together such a massive and detailed report. And, similarly, kudos to Eli Sugarman who similarly helped pull all this together and made it possible via the Hewlett Foundation and Schmidt Futures.

For what it’s worth, my role in all of this was to attend a few meetings where I expressed a bunch of thoughts, as well as reviewing some early drafts and providing a few comments as this went through the sausage making process. I was told from the beginning that I was never expected to sign off on the end product or even agree with anything in it, which was key to me participating in the first place (especially as I’ve seen a few other attempts at something somewhat similar go completely off the rails). But I’m quite happy with how this turned out and think this will be an incredibly useful document going forward in continuing to make the kind of web that we all should want.

I hope that people who are legitimately interested in how the web should operate will read through the report to get a better understanding of the opportunities and challenges ahead.

Finally, I will note that I’ve been diligently working on another project related to this release, but it’s not quite ready for the light of day just yet, so stay tuned…

Filed Under: trust & safety, trustworthy web


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