Leadership Advice for New Trust & Safety Leaders.pdf

Created time
Mar 4, 2024 10:40 PM
20 Tips for Becoming an
Effective Leader in Trust and
Safety Policy, Product, and
Bri Riggio, Visiting Fellow
February 2024
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This project emerged from a recognition that online safety work comes with
challenges not seen in other professions, making leadership roles in the
industry uniquely challenging. Some of these challenges include:
Being exposed to traumatic or disturbing content, including the
knowledge that inaction could result in real-world harm to others or
societal structures.
High scrutiny - both internal and external - around content moderation
policies and decisions.
Success metrics are difficult to define and measure, especially when
your value is largely justified by the absence of crises, harm, or other
Burnout of all kinds, often stemming from the fact that the work never
ends and frequently feels misunderstood or deprioritized.
Although the Trust and Safety industry is professionalizing, resources for new
and emerging leaders in the space are scarce, and generic leadership guides
and training programs lack specific guidance for how to account for and
consider these challenges.
As a result, new leaders may initially struggle unless they have a super
strong support network or a mentor with previous industry experience who
can offer them guidance. Without this support, new leaders are forced to
learn solely through trial and error, which can be a painful process.
While this resource cannot replicate true mentorship or work experience, it
offers some advice from those who have already learned these leadership
lessons and can hopefully serve as a starting point for those who have or are
considering taking on a leadership role in the Trust and Safety space.
This creation of this resource was sponsored by the Integrity Institute,
through the Integrity Institute’s Visiting Fellowship Program.
You can learn more about the Integrity Institute here.
About This Project
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Leadership in Online
Safety and Integrity Work
While most people think of a leader as someone who manages people, we’ve
broadened that definition to include anyone who has either formally or
informally taken on a leadership role in the online safety space. This might
mean managing people, but it could also mean holding responsibility for
critical safety project outcomes, decisions, or strategies.
Trust and safety workers frequently take on these positions informally or
unintentionally. Ideally it happens because someone wants more influence,
responsibility, or authority and chooses it (“I want to have a seat at the
decision-making table, so I’m taking on this role so that it gives me that
opportunity”). However, in fast-paced and under-resourced environments, this
can also happen as a result of role scope creep (“It just kind of happened!”) or
because of scarce resources (“There isn’t budget to hire a manager, so I was
asked or expected to take this on”).
While these individuals may not be recognized or compensated, they are
nonetheless leading others or critical projects through challenging or difficult
circumstances. This resource is intended for people who occupy both roles.
The Leaders
This resource contains perspectives from 15 individuals (author included) who
identified themselves as holding either formal or informal leadership positions
working on online safety or integrity issues at private, for-profit companies.
These individuals have experience ranging from two to 10+ years of
experience in leadership roles. They’ve held positions on Policy, Product, and
Operations teams and worked on the following types of issues:
Creating, communicating, and/or enforcing content policies
Conducting threat intelligence and/or risk assessments
Managing crises and public policy relationships
Engaging in strategic and advisory work for their organizations
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