The History of Trust & Safety Project
Read TSF Research Assistant Megan Knittel’s Medium article about the archive here.
One goal of this project was to understand how trust and safety has developed as a field of knowledge. Part of this knowledge is captured in research across academic disciplines. To capture academic scholarship relevant to trust and safety, we created a public archive, hosted by the Zotero.org reference manager application.
In our search, we included peer-reviewed articles, books, and book chapters available in English and published between 1980 and 2023. We did not include journalism and news media articles, internal communications (i.e., company memos), or student theses/dissertations as our goal was to understand how academic disciplines have (or have not) discussed trust and safety topics. We prioritized our search in the publications and conferences for the following disciplines: Communications, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Law, Media Studies, and Science & Technology Studies (STS).
We began our search with the following keywords/phrases: content moderation, online moderation, online harassment, online safety, online governance, cybersafety, and platform governance. We used these search terms to find relevant research across several research databases including Google Scholar, the Association for Computing Machinery Digital Library, LexisNexis, Scopus, and Web of Science. We read the resulting research and added relevant items to the Zotero archive. Additionally, leveraging the sources we read, we identified other relevant scholarship based on citations and author keywords.
After generating a first draft of the archive, we invited subject matter experts (SMEs) to holistically review the archive and provide their feedback and suggested additions.* Every expert had some connection with trust and safety practice such as policy work, doing trust and safety work in private industry, advocacy work, and/or contributions to T&S education such as writing chapters for TSPA’s T&S Curriculum.
How to Access the Archive
This public archive is a growing and evolving community resource. We invite you to explore the archive, use it as a starting point for your own research or identify potential collaborators. You can access the current archive here. If you’re interested in edit access to contribute directly to the archive, please complete the form available here.
*We’d like to acknowledge, in no particular order, Robyn Caplan, Oliver Haimson, Nic Suzor, Lucinda Nelson, Jeff Lazarus, Leonie Tanczer, Joseph Seering, Ysabel Gerrard, and Mitali Thakor for reviewing and providing feedback on the archive.
To complement the public archive described above, TSF has also launched an interview-based study to better understand and to document the history of trust and safety as a field of practice. As a part of this study, we’re looking for interview participants who are willing to talk about their experiences, perspectives, and experiences in trust and safety.
We’d love to talk to a range of stakeholders in the T&S ecosystem, from industry to academia to civil society to government. Interviews will take place online (via Google Meet or Zoom), via telephone or email, will last roughly 60 minutes, and will be recorded with consent. Participants will not receive monetary compensation.
If you’re interested, please complete this screening survey.