Protecting the Platform Nest Egg

Growing Importance of Trust & Safety Roles

News and commentary about platforms is dominated by discussion of launch, user growth, and optimizing network effects. However, these are far from the only motivation driving hiring decisions.

A review of platform job searches currently underway suggests that executive teams making hiring decisions are also keenly focused on keeping what they have.  There are now a dozen or more jobs posted each month for platform professionals who can take on and manage platform trust and safety.  

Take Airbnb. This past week, the company posted a position with the interesting title of Product Lead, Defense Platform.  The role involves the following objectives to ensure the trust and security of the 2 million people who stay in homes through the platform in 100,000 cities across the world on any given night:

Within Trust, you will lead the Defense Platform team that spans three pillars: (1) Trust Tools, used by our global Trust operations team, (2) a Policy Platform and (3) our Machine Learning “foundational models” platform that will powers the online and offline defenses we develop to keep our community of hosts, guests, and communities safe. Key stakeholders for the Defense Platform team includes other Product Managers and Engineering teams within Trust, across Identity, Fraud & Abuse, Safety and Crisis teams.

The Defense Platform team will be successful if we build a robust ecosystem of models to detect risk, defenses to deter risky actors and bookings, and have a tooling platform that enables us to scale our Global Trust operations and Policy Enforcement, while building a robust feedback loop into our modeling platform. A key part of this role will be looking across teams to connect dots, signals, and align roadmaps so that the team’s have a unified vision and the work of one team strengthens other defenses on our platform.

As the Product lead for the Defense Platform team you will manage a team of PMs and help drive alignment across your team, within Trust, and with key partners in Homes, Payments, Guest Store, and Community support. 

Airbnb is far from alone.  This month a gaggle of platforms is out in the job market looking for specialized trust and saftey related platform talent.   The table below presents 10 platforms with searches currently underway.

Ten Platforms with Trust & Safety Positions Open 

Upwork offers another example. The freelance platform, which now does $2 billion in transactions a year, has an talent search underway for Director, Trust & Safety Policy and Operations.  This position includes the following responsibilities:

  • Coach and manage 4+ Senior Managers responsible for work streams like Content & Engagement, Payment Compliance, Identity, Circumvention, Investigations, Account Security, and Scam

  • Oversee Policy development across Trust & Safety, focusing initially on Content & Engagement and Identity, with input from users and cross-functional partners

  • Build feedback loops with our dedicated Product team to ensure flawless coordination between Operations and Product to achieve Trust & Safety goals

  • Ensure the work of our 200+ remote agents across Trust & Safety is optimized to drive operational efficiency, efficacy, and excellence in maintaining a safe platform 

  • Surface user-centric feedback about what is and is not working to our Trust & Safety product managers and help guide and prioritize technical solutions to critical user challenges

  • Build systems to run high visibility cross functional escalations to resolution, including processes for continual learning and improvement

  • Communicate and report overall status, primary metrics, key issues and solution plans to key partners and executives

These are all well-paid six figure positions. They also require significant experience and technical capability. 

TikTok, for example, is now actively seeking a Threat Analyst to join the Trust & Safety team based in the company’s Mountain View office. Requirements for this position are steep:

  • Preferred MA or PhD in Computer Science, Data Science, Econometrics, Mathematics, Information Science, Criminology, Cyber Security, or similar.

  • 5+ years of experience in related fields, such as Trust and Safety, Fraud, Integrity or Cyber Security.

  • Strong and proven data analysis skills

  • SQL

  • Python or similar scripting languages

  • Statistical analysis (multivariate analysis of variance, correlation/regression, etc.)

  • Network analysis

  • An understanding of online deceptive and manipulative behavior.

  • Familiar with academic and industry research. 

These capabilities will be applied, working alongside multiple teams, to identify and develop action plans to address platform threats. The expectation is that the platform professional selected for this role will work cross-functionally with product managers, program managers, operations, policy, and communications teams to find and fill gaps in current threat response processes. The goal is to not only respond to bad actors but proactively search for and identify coming threats by building scalable protections to keep them out.

As these and other roles suggest, protecting a platform involves more than the prevention and control of risk.  The Trust & Safety role is considered strategic.  The aim is not only to mitigate risk but also ensure that users of the platform have a positive experience and become loyal to the platform and come back for repeat business.

The role also plays a crucial role in ensuring that the positive network effects that have contributed to building up the platform do not go into reverse. For example, the need to quickly address “flash parties” at Airbnb is just one of many issues that executive teams at platforms have had to address to ward off repetitional damage that would drive away users.

The Trust & Safety role is complex. It not only requires professionals versed in platform logic and have a deep technical background, but also favors people who can interface with every aspect of the company— product lines, engineering, data science, marketing, and operations. Platform professionals that fill these roles are expected to be skilled at navigating, strategizing, and collaborating across the entire company to continuously make the platform better.

In short, these job searches reflect the growing demand for professionals who can take on and lead responsibility for protecting the platform nest egg.

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