Recap: Evolving Trust & Safety Careers in Asia

TS in asia event image

“Evolving Trust & Safety Careers in Asia,” held on November 19th 2021, was TSPA’s first APAC-focused careers panel. We’re so grateful to Ilana Rosenzweig (Twitter) for moderating, and to our amazing panelists: Zhen Xiong Lim (Airbnb), Jiahui Ang (TikTok), Sheen Handoo (Twitter), and Kate Blashki (Meta). Here are some highlights from the conversation: 

How is the trust and safety field growing in APAC?

Kate Blashki: Media reports observe that APAC has strong internet penetration growth and some countries are mobile first, so many new people are accessing platforms. The content they share and the ways they engage on these platforms reflects communities in the region. However, this also means there’s a lot of talent — local, regional, and global — attracted to APAC. It’s an opportunity to work with many energised, talented people. 

Sheen Handoo: The thinking has been that APAC is where the next billion users will come from. The policies, enforcement, and tools that worked for the first billion may not work for the next billion because they come from very different cultural, social, political, and economic backgrounds. It’s important for us to have that clarity and ensure that the way people interact with the platform is equitable and accessible. Trust and safety professionals will need to bring that nuance to the table. 

Zhen Xiong Lim: There will be a lot more demand for T&S professionals in APAC. So, if anyone is looking for a career change or is starting a new career, there will be many opportunities. There will be demand for people who are experienced or someone who has the skill set to deal with trust and safety issues that are unique to this region. 

Jiahui Ang: Trust and safety is really a collective which enables us to work quickly and simultaneously to achieve a common goal. When I started, I was part of a 5-person team and the team has grown from strength to strength in the last few years. This gives you a sense of the growth of trust and safety in this region. 

Tell us about your journey into trust and safety.

Zhen Xiong Lim: From first glance, my background appears pretty far from trust and safety, but the dots actually connected nicely. In school, I was trained as a chemical engineer, but after school, I worked at the National Environment Agency where I was doing regulatory enforcement — essentially front line work, responding to complaints, with an ops team responding to policy. In a way, it was not very different from what ops teams do in a tech company. You have a policy, you enforce upon a policy, and you respond with a view to ensure that customer satisfaction is high. 

After that, my work was more focused on international relations (similar to diplomatic service) at the National Environment Agency, where I engaged in high-level meetings with senior executives and ministers. My last stint in the public sector was legislation development, where I was involved in developing the national cyber security law for Singapore. That was similar to a policy role, in that we were writing a piece of legislation, which is essentially a policy for the country. The skills that I used in the public sector are the same I use at Airbnb.

In trust and safety, many times, talent comes from the public sector because they are a pool of skilled policymakers who know how to balance trade offs. The scale and community are different, but the skill set is similar. 

Kate Blashki: I started as a lawyer and worked in criminal defense and civil and human rights. I didn’t imagine I would find another career as fulfilling as that one for me – I thrived on the personal impact I could contribute to for people and communities,  at times being at the forefront of positive socio-legal change. I didn’t think of tech companies as being a natural fit for me. I’m not someone for whom tech comes naturally or is a natural interest. But once you scratch the surface, these are platforms that are serving communities of people, for them to share ideas, to learn, or build a business. It’s a very dynamic space. One surprise for me was that I felt right at home. 

Sheen Handoo: I was trained as a lawyer, but my first job was working with a think tank on human rights issues. The turning point was when I was in the United States, doing my LLM, and I joined a seminar on freedom of speech and expression, human rights, and corporate accountability. That was my first introduction to the world of social media and internet rights, and it changed everything for me. 

I got a job at Facebook and was a public policy manager. I worked on anything and everything under the sun. I moved to content and safety issues full time because there is a massive opportunity to bring regional nuances to the table. There’s an assumption, when in public policy, that this is easy; but when I moved to content policy, the sheer volume and the multi-dimensional aspect of trust and safety and content issues blew my mind. There are so many layers of work that we do: from operations to policy writing to educating users of our policies. That has been very fulfilling for me. 

Jiahui Ang: I came from a financial background and was formally trained as a financial auditor. Because of my technical background in financial risk, I was hired as an investigator for Amazon. In the financial sector, I have been taught to critically assess clients with professional skepticism. Emotions don’t usually come to play. When I joined trust and safety, rather than not factoring emotions into the equation, I learned that empathy does not always need to be at odds with facts. We approach our work with empathy and rigor to seek the simple truth. Emotions drive humans, and that’s motivating for me.

If someone wanted to get into trust and safety, what would your advice to them be? 

Sheen Handoo: It’s important to be able to have open conversations and be open to different points of view. How you balance different perspectives is important to grow — not just in a company — but as a person. 

Jiahui Ang: This is an up-and-coming industry, and you will be a trailblazer. It won’t be easy for someone who wants structure and a step-by-step process. It’s an industry that can be a bit chaotic. You will need to be a self-starter. One thing I told myself, switching to a new industry into trust and safety, was to stay humble and that others can teach me something I don’t know. It also helps to join a professional association, like TSPA, to learn from other industry professionals.

Zhen Xiong Lim: Many tech companies hire for T&S roles in APAC to localize their services and products, and many of these roles are new products or tools to deal with trust and safety issues in APAC. So, you need to understand APAC users, and appreciate the diversity in APAC. For someone wanting to work in APAC, my advice would be to have diversity of views and experience in APAC. Knowing multiple APAC languages will be a big benefit as well. 

Kate Blashki: This is a great profession for someone who is looking to make an impact. Tech companies, entertainment platforms can be very attractive employers; and working in trust and safety can be a good way to get involved in an exciting and dynamic area without needing to be an engineer or have a technical background. A lot of these roles require cross-functional collaboration and networking. Be humble and be eager to learn new ideas. Also, remember that APAC is not homogenous, so it’s important to listen and work with partners. 


Thanks again to the panelists and to all the audience members who submitted great questions. We can’t wait to do the next careers panel!

Our 2021 Roadmap: H1 Recap and H2 Plans

We’re excited to give you some updates on our 2021 annual plan. Back in February, we shared our plan for the first half of the year, and we’re here to report back on our progress and share our plans for the rest of the year.

In the first six months of 2021, we welcomed five new companies as annual corporate supporters: Depop, Discord, Eventbrite, Robinhood, and TikTok. It’s been wonderful to welcome members from these companies to our community events and working groups. Companies like these, along with our founding corporate supporters, are what make our programming possible; we are so grateful for their steadfast support.

We also onboarded members from three companies through a generous grant from Omidyar Network: Outschool, Somewhere Good, and Fiveable. These teams are working to make the world and the internet a fairer and better place, and we’ve loved working alongside them to support their goals.

In April, we hired Kaofeng Lee as our Director of Organizational Development. If you’ve been in touch with TSPA over the past few months, you’ve almost certainly heard from or met with Kaofeng; she is incredible to work with, and we are so lucky to have her!

We also launched a whole new TSPA website in April, including our Job Board and our Event Hub. We’ve listed over 200 T&S jobs since then, and have even heard from people who are now working in T&S thanks to a job they found on our Job Board — truly one of the best testimonials the Job Board could receive!

In June, our Curriculum Working Group launched the first installment of the Trust & Safety Curriculum. Along with chapters on Creating and Enforcing Policy and Transparency Reporting, the Curriculum also presents an industry glossary and a guide to common job titles and functions in T&S. The Curriculum is a critical component of the professional development and support that TSPA strives to provide to the field, and we’re pleased to be presenting it at no cost to the reader.

TSPA hosted seven events this half, including members-only wellness workshops hosted by our Wellness & Resilience Working Group, in-depth case study discussions, and a public panel about policy development. We also participated in over a dozen public panels and discussions hosted by governments, NGOs, and companies based across the US and Europe. In these interactions, we explained how online trust and safety really works and represented the complexities professionals face in our field.

We’ve taken preliminary steps towards establishing a research coalition housed within TSF. We’re still in the discussion phase with potential participants and hope to share more updates on this as the year progresses.

As we enter the second half of 2021, we’re focusing on the following goals:

Growing an inclusive organization:

  • We’ll be rolling out  an individual membership option. This will allow individual practitioners to benefit from membership without relying on an employer’s corporate support of TSPA. We’re committed to ensuring that cost is not a barrier for individual TSPA membership.
  • We will continue to onboard corporate supporters, with a focus on bringing in professionals from companies based outside the US and across diverse product sectors and service models.
  • Through the generosity of the Omidyar Network, we will continue to seek out members from companies that develop products, services, and tools that equalize access to opportunity or seek to improve human interactions online but have limited financial resources.

Programs and partnerships:

  • We’ll be publishing the next set of chapters in our Trust & Safety Curriculum. The Curriculum Working Group is gearing up to start writing Operations and Content Moderation, Laws and Regulation, and T&S and Law Enforcement — and you can volunteer to join them if you’re a TSPA member!
  • We are redeveloping our Resource Library to be more accessible. Our Resource Development Working Group is designing and implementing a classification system that will allow readers to easily find what they’re looking for. We’ll be making the Resource Library searchable and adding more audio and video resources, too.
  • Our Wellness & Resilience Working Group will publish a guide to wellness for T&S teams; this guide will walk the reader through various considerations in hiring and managing T&S professionals, with ideas on task structure, wellness offerings, tools to reduce exposure to toxic content, and more.

Convening our community:

  • We’ll be holding our first in-person member events. We’re taking a careful approach to these events, understanding that the pandemic is still very much with us. We’re hoping to host community networking events in San Francisco, New York, Dublin, and London, but we’re keeping a close eye on local COVID-19 restrictions and are staying flexible with our plans.
  • We are beginning to plan our first annual conference in 2022. We’re looking forward to bringing our global community together once it’s safe and equitable to do so. In the meantime, we are partnering with Marketplace Risk to host a track at their Marketplace Risk Management Conference in September; we hope you can join us. 
  • We will debut a TSPA Slack workspace. We want to make it easy for T&S professionals to get the answers and support they need from each other, especially if we can’t all gather in person, and we’re looking forward to making this space available to our community.

As you can see, we’ve got a lot planned and we look forward to sharing our progress with you, as well as having you along with us during this journey. It’s been an amazing year so far, and we’re looking forward to the next six months of serving this professional community. 

Introducing the Trust and Safety Curriculum

Today, we are proud to publish the first two chapters of TSPA’s Trust and Safety Curriculum: Creating and Enforcing Policy, and Transparency Reporting. This curriculum is written by TPSA’s Curriculum Working Group, and we are excited to share what they have produced.

Online trust and safety is still a relatively new profession, and people who decide to pursue a path in this field often find that there are not many guideposts along the way. And yet, trust and safety professionals are responsible for grappling with incredibly complex issues that affect billions of people around the world. TSPA’s mission is to support our peers in developing the expertise and skills they need to successfully navigate this incredibly high-stakes environment. This curriculum is a key piece of that support. 

Trust and safety professionals hone their practice through experience, and we are grateful to the Curriculum Working Group members for sharing their knowledge and expertise with others in the field to help them along the way. In the past, that hard-won knowledge was shared through one-on-one mentoring or coffee-meet-ups and difficult to share widely. This curriculum is a new opportunity for professionals in our field to help light the way for others, spark the exchange of new ideas, and give the public a tangible sense of what our work truly looks like. 

Work on the curriculum is ongoing, and we will be releasing additional chapters in the near future. You can see a list of the chapters we already have planned here. If you’d like to get involved in writing the curriculum, apply here. We strongly believe that the work of trust and safety should not be done in a vacuum. As we develop this curriculum, we welcome input from everyone as this work impacts the broader public and should take into account diverse perspectives. We welcome your feedback; you can get in touch here.

TSPA’s 1-Year Anniversary

TSPA turns one today, and we’d like to pause and celebrate the community we are building together. As we reflect back on this past year, it’s safe to say that the Year 1 we got was really different from the Year 1 we’d planned. For so many of our members, the past 365 days have been some of the most difficult days of their lives. Between political upheaval, racist attacks and murders, financial uncertainty, and the anxiety, isolation, and suffering wrought by a pandemic that is still with us—well, it feels a little silly to write a birthday post, doesn’t it? But in this field, we often fault ourselves for not stopping to celebrate the wins – so today, we want to stop and celebrate this community and all that we have accomplished together in the past year. 

In the last year, hundreds of TSPA members have attended and presented at our events. They made the time to connect in our small group conversations. They spent hours volunteering in our working groups. They generously counseled fellow members who are new to the field (and even hired some of them!) Here at TSPA, we’ve managed a lot of the logistics—introductions, events, resources, etc.—but it’s our members who have really made it work. (And virtually, at that!) 

A year ago, TPSA was a new idea by our founders, who realized that trust and safety professionals needed a space to connect, to learn, and to grow. In just one year, we have signed on 13 founding supporters and 7 annual supporters—and thousands of members around the world. We are so grateful to be celebrating our birthday with this community, and we can’t wait to see each other (for real!) in our second year.

April 2021 – H1 Roadmap Update

It’s April, which means it’s time for an update on our H1 goals. We’re excited to share what we’ve been working on.

Growing our organization

  • We’ve welcomed our first annual corporate supporters. Trust & safety professionals from the following companies are now TSPA members, thanks to their generous support:
  • We’ve hired Kaofeng Lee as our Director of Organizational Development. Kaofeng comes to us with 14 years of working as an advocate, educator, and community builder in the field of gender-based violence and technology. Kaofeng is passionate about connecting communities, empowering people, and working together to create a safer and just world. She is looking forward to working with the TSPA community.

  • We’ve onboarded our first few companies through the Omidyar Network grant program, and we’re in talks with many more. One of the exciting things about this program is getting to connect with T&S teams that are just starting out at companies with really positive missions. They’re an incredible group of people, and we’re excited for our existing members to get to know them.
  • We’re still setting up our individual membership pilot, which will allow individual practitioners to benefit from membership without relying on their employer. To support individual membership, we need to do a little more work on our website and organizational backend – stay tuned for an update later in Q2!

Programs and partnerships

  • We’ve launched a job board specifically tailored to T&S job seekers and the teams who want to hire them. You can post and filter jobs by experience level, remote-friendliness, people management requirements, and meaningful job categories. If you’ve got a job to list, get in touch at jobs@tspa.info

  • Our Curriculum Working Group will be publishing our Transparency Reporting T&S 101 unit at the end of this month; our Abuse and Content Policy unit and Policy Enforcement unit will follow in the next two months.

  • We’ve taken the first steps to start a research coalition hosted within the Trust & Safety Foundation Project. More details on this will be forthcoming over the next few months; you can get in touch with us to be kept in the loop.

Convening the community

  • Our Wellness & Resilience Working Group has hosted two members-only events focused on T&S practitioner wellbeing. We did not record these sessions per the wishes of the presenters, but are working to provide some recorded content in this area by the end of the half.

  • We’ve launched our Event Hub to track relevant events across the T&S community, so practitioners have a central location to promote their own events and discover others.

  • With the pandemic turning the corner in some of our members’ home cities and countries, we’re turning our attention towards our in-person meetup plan from June onwards. Since we’re a safety-focused organization, it’s no surprise that we’ll be following local health guidance as we plan our reunion gatherings. We’re all looking forward to seeing each other again!

This organization is built by T&S professionals, for T&S professionals – if you have ideas, feedback, or you want to get involved, don’t hesitate to get in touch.