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A Closer Look at the Trust and Safety Policy Team

Earlier this year, our Director of Trust & Safety (T&S) Operations, Caitlyn McNerney, provided an overview of Upwork’s ongoing efforts to increase trust within the world’s work marketplace. Today, we’ll take a closer look at one specific branch of the T&S Operation, the T&S Policy Team, which helps guide fairness and consistency within our trust practices.

Who we are and what we do

Our Policy team is composed of T&S professionals with over 25 years of combined experience keeping online communities safe. We establish rules for platform content and customer behavior that set the standard for what is or isn’t allowed. Our guiding principles promote safety, security, and inclusion within our marketplace. 

If someone isn’t abiding by the rules, our T&S moderators work with them to provide education so they can course correct. However, in some cases, violating Upwork’s rules can lead to a temporary or permanent account suspension. 

Building these rules is a responsibility we take seriously. Policy development is an intensive and collaborative endeavor. We pull from our community’s combined subject matter expertise, customer-facing support teams, our Legal team, Public Policy, Data Analysts, the Upwork Leadership team, external experts, and more.

A closer look at T&S Policies and our process

Our Trust and Safety policies are developed using our company principles, Terms of Service, and applicable legal requirements, and are organized into the following five themes: 

  1. Safety: Protecting customers from physical or psychological harm
  2. Security: Keeping the marketplace safe from online or financial harm
  3. Integrity: Promoting the honest and ethical use of Upwork
  4. Quality: Maintaining a professional and organized marketplace
  5. Platform Misuse: Ensuring that Upwork’s platform and tools are used as intended

Every policy we implement goes through a rigorous review process. Here are the four main milestones of a policy life cycle:

Research: A policy must be comprehensive. We dive into the available information associated with the topic to develop a well-rounded understanding of the issue and the context in which it might occur. We look at our internal data and feedback from talent and clients to see how it’s impacting our customers today. To better understand how something affects communities beyond our own, we review the regulatory landscape, information in the press, and related academic studies. In some instances, we also seek advice from external experts to help ensure our research efforts are comprehensive. 

Policy Development: A policy must be a good fit for our marketplace. Once we’ve completed research, we filter the information through Upwork’s unique business needs, our values, and our mission. Our goal is to transparently define the issue, acceptable and unacceptable user behavior, and consequences for violations with our customers in mind. Before minting a new policy, it goes through multiple rounds of review and feedback to ensure it addresses the issue in a way that’s right for our community. 

Implementation: A policy must be performable. Everyone needs access to the “rules of the road,” and our moderators need to be able to carry them out within our community accurately and fairly. To do that, we help develop a number of supporting documents to ensure the success of a new rule. This can include things like Help articles and educational emails seen by customers or workflows and processes used by our moderators.

Iteration and Improvement: A policy must be a living document, and policies have to evolve as laws, cultural attitudes, and customer expectations change. Upwork’s T&S policies are reviewed regularly to ensure they are still positively contributing to the safety and security of our community. 

How to get involved

Keep sharing feedback through Community forums and with Upwork when you have the opportunity. We’re listening! If you see a violation of our rules, we encourage you to flag it to us. You can learn more about reporting suspicious activity here

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