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Trust and Safety AI Update | April 2023

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Last year the Trust and Safety team committed to sharing updates to increase transparency and promote an open discussion about our work. Our goal is to focus our updates on topics that matter most to you. In this update, we are taking the opportunity to discuss using generative artificial intelligence (AI) on Upwork.

What is Generative Artificial Intelligence?

Generative AI refers to an algorithm that is able to create content in the form of text, images, code, and audio (to name a few). These algorithms often have been trained on pre-existing data that they use to create new content. ChatGPT is one well-known example of generative AI. 

How generative AI may be used on Upwork 

Generative AI is an exciting and evolving technology, and we anticipate that freelancers and clients may wish to experiment with how these tools can bolster productivity or enhance their work. There are a few ways in which Upwork users may choose to use generative AI in their work: 

1. Looking for work on Upwork. For example, freelancers may use it to help create a proposal template that accurately represents their skills and expertise that is then customized to fit a specific job post. 

2. Improving job posts. For example, clients may use it to help build a job post or help define specific skill keywords. 

3. Completing work for a client. A freelancer may choose to use generative AI to create an executive summary from a larger body of work. As with any tool, we suggest completing a final human review and tailoring as needed. Also, it’s important to be aware that clients may restrict the use of generative AI as a tool in work products for their projects, so you may want to be mindful of whether the client has noted any such restrictions.

April 2023 Terms of Service Update

Additionally, to help increase transparency, we’ve updated our Optional Service Contract Terms, User Agreement, and Terms of Use to clarify Upwork’s position on the use of generative AI.

Optional Service Contract Terms

  • We’ve updated Section 2: Services to clarify that freelancers can use any tools, which includes generative AI tools, unless expressly restricted by the client.

User Agreement

  • We’ve updated the definition of User Content to more clearly include content originally generated through generative AI tools. Be mindful that anything you post on Upwork becomes User Content, subject to all of the provisions in our User Agreement related to User Content.

Terms of Use

  • We’ve also updated the definition of Content to clearly include the following: 
    • Content is what users post to Upwork themselves, like comments, profiles, feedback, images, or other information. It includes anything posted by you even if elements of the content were originally generated by generative AI or other tools, or in response to questions posed to you by Upwork or other users or Upwork.
  • While the use of generative AI tools is acceptable under the circumstances described above, we’ve updated Section 3.2: Acting in a misleading or fraudulent way to account for the use of generative AI tools to explain when using generative AI tools could constitute misrepresentation and is therefore prohibited: 
    • Using generative AI or other tools to substantially bolster your job proposals or work product if such use is restricted by your client or violates any third-party's rights.

How we maintain trust together when using Generative AI

Ultimately, deciding whether generative AI tools are the right fit for a project is up to our clients and freelancers to decide for themselves and in their contract terms. 

If you choose to use generative AI or another tool to complete work, we believe that transparency between freelancers and clients is essential to a successful project. With this in mind, we recommend that clients and freelancers discuss their intended process, tools, and expectations with one another.

Here is one example: 

If a freelancer and a client come to an agreement on specific privacy terms, it may be beneficial to clarify whether those terms discourage sharing project details with a generative AI platform

We are intrigued by the possibilities that generative AI can offer to our customers. However, as this is a new and evolving technology, we still have much to discover and learn together. That's why we are dedicating resources to explore multiple areas across our Product, Research, and Support organizations. Our objective is to identify opportunities where we can leverage generative AI to enhance the overall Upwork experience for both our clients and freelancers.


Read the previous Trust and Safety update here