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How to Evaluate a Trust and Safety Vendor

June 17, 2021

Online platforms have a digital trust challenge. More and more people are using gaming, social, dating, marketplace, and e-learning platforms. The sheer volume and growth of activity has made it extraordinarily difficult for Trust and Safety teams to create and maintain sufficient, consistent, effective policies for addressing behaviors outside of community guidelines.

And the problem appears to be getting worse:

  • 72% of American Internet users say they’ve witnessed online harassment.

  • 40% say they’ve abandoned a social media platform due to harassment.

  • While online reporting is often a platform’s main defense in identifying bad behavior, just 18% of users say they’ve actually reported another user

  • 70% to 90% of those user-generated reports are reviewed by a human and dismissed as false, wasting precious moderator time.

To meet these challenges, many digital platforms are turning to third-party content moderation vendors. These vendors promise to improve efficiency, accuracy, and consistent response to problematic behaviors. However, with the wide variety of solutions available, how can you choose the partner that’s right for your business?

How to Evaluate Trust & Safety Vendors

There are several different factors in determining the right choice of Trust & Safety vendor for your business. The weight of each factor will depend on the priorities and needs of the platform, the audience, the community, the different communication channels that are supported, etc.

Vendor selection criteria can be grouped into three main categories:

  • Partnership

  • Infrastructure

  • Performance

Download: How to Evaluate a Trust & Safety Vendor WhitepaperPartnership
One of the main considerations in selecting a Trust and Safety vendor is whether you (and the key stakeholders across your organization) can work with the vendor on an ongoing basis.

This is likely to be a long-term relationship for your platform, so the choice that is made can have far-reaching implications. Does the vendor have a mission that is aligned with your own? Have they taken the time to understand the community guidelines that you’ve set forth, and the impact those may have on different audiences within the community?

Consider the information that has been provided to you from potential vendors, and the interactions that you have had. Are they available for questions, and do they respond quickly? Do they have regularly scheduled check-ins or progress reviews to continuously improve results? Are they thought leaders in the larger Trust and Safety community, active in developing online standards?

Can they provide case studies and references from current customers?

Infrastructure
In addition to having a team that you can work with, you need a partner with technology that can integrate with your own. Ask whether their technology can integrate into your platform as is, or whether customizations are required. Are APIs available to make that easier, or must they be built from scratch?

Does the vendor’s workflow address the specific use cases of your platform? And what kind of service level agreements are available?

Learn About Human Trafficking

Performance
Finally, what performance improvements can the vendor provide for your platform? What results have they achieved in practice with customers like you? At this time, you may consider running a test using platform data on the vendor’s solution, to get an idea of the results you can expect.

Another consideration is if they offer performance results both as a snapshot, and showing improvements over time. The evolving online safety landscape means that things are constantly changing. Only an adaptive solution that evolves alongside changing tactics can meet both current and future Trust and Safety requirements.

Overall, there are three main considerations when choosing a Trust and Safety vendor: can your teams work together? Can your technologies work together? And in the end, can the services offered by this vendor make your community a safer place?

Choosing the right Trust and Safety vendor isn’t easy. There are a number of factors that can affect the overall performance of a Trust and Safety partner, and your satisfaction with the solutions they offer.

If you’d like more information about selecting a Trust and Safety vendor, including checklists, questionnaires, and valuable tips, please download the Spectrum Labs whitepaper, “How to Evaluate a Trust and Safety Vendor.”

Align internally on Trust and Safety

References:
https://www.cybersmile.org/news/u-s-survey-reveals-almost-half-of-internet-users-experience-personal-abuse-online

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