Meta explores decentralized social network to rival Twitter

Trust Lab raises $15M to fuel efforts to prevent harmful internet content

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Trust Lab, a company that provides platforms and regulators analytics to safeguard against harmful content, announced today that it has raised $15 million in a Series A funding round led by U.S. Venture Partners and Foundation Capital.

Using the platform, companies and public organizations can detect, track and monitor harmful content and potential bad actors across the internet. The company uses artificial intelligence to classify information by providing insights from the open web about current high-risk trends.

“The principle behind this is you can’t manage what you can’t measure,” Trust Lab co-founder and Chief Executive and Tom Siegel told SiliconANGLE in an interview.

Siegel, along with Benji Loney — who came by way of TikTok, Reddit and YouTube – and Shankar Ponnekanki founded Trust Lab in 2020 with the aim to help big tech companies, academics and regulators identify potential harm and prevent it. Siegel founded the Trust and Safety team at Google LLC and scaled it up beginning when the company was only offering a search product.

For private businesses that host user-generated content, or users that can sign up on their systems openly, Trust Lab assists them with moderating and mitigating the potential harm that can come with that. This is done through both monitoring and moderation mechanisms by assessing potential risks and harms happening on the platform.

“We’re specifically assessing if content or users pose potential harm for a platform or for a customer and then providing them with signals that we find from the open web to help them make that determination,” explained Siegel.

The platform doesn’t outright say if something is good or bad. It’s designed to provide the moderation staff the information needed to make that decision on their own by augmenting their own intelligence. Examples could also be using heuristics and artificial intelligence to find reputable information sources on the open web or discovering information about a particular trend.

Current clients of Trust Lab include the European Commission, venture capital firm In-Q-Tel, and a number of social media companies, messaging platforms and marketplaces.

The European Commission, which is the European Union’s independent executive arm, recently signed a deal with Trust Lab to assess the amplification of violent content and terrorism across social media. The project, which started in November, was slated to run 40 weeks and measure extreme violence on social media and its proliferation across eight European markets through platforms including Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter. The monitoring crosses multiple languages, including those not geographically common to Europe such as Arabic and Russian.

The project goes beyond simply monitoring to include user insights and also to check and see if platforms actually took down harmful content when it was flagged.

Trust Lab also assists companies in staying compliant with regional laws and regulations, such as the Digital Services Act in Europe, a law meant to require social media platforms to address concerns about illegal content, and California’s content safety laws involving minor children. “As in many places across the world, it’s increasingly difficult for all platforms to ensure compliance with all these laws that are sometimes woven in conflict with each other,” Siegel said.

Content moderation and tracking potentially harmful behavior by users is increasingly difficult as well because of how many platforms exist and because of cross-platform movement. By having a monitoring solution that aggregates information from the open web that provides intelligence across multiple platforms, Siegel said it gives customers and regulators a broader sense of what they might be dealing with and better information to moderate content on their own platform or make policy decisions.

Image: macrovector/Freepik

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