Leadership Advice for New Trust and Safety Leaders — Integrity Institute

Integrity Institute is proud to announce the release of Leadership Advice for New Trust & Safety 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

About This Project

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 problems.
  • 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.

About the Author

This guide is written by Bri Riggio, a member and former Visiting Fellow at Integrity Institute. Bri currently leads Discord's Platform Policy Team and was the company's first Counter Extremism Team Lead. Before joining Discord, Bri worked at several higher education institutions and nonprofits, operating at the intersection of education and international relations. She has used her experience interacting with academics, activists, and government entities to inform her work in the tech industry.