As the volume of trust and safety issues increases, analysts need the right tools to efficiently conduct successful investigations.
Online services and communities demand constant attention to ensure usage and content is appropriate and free of abuse and criminal activity. Trust and safety teams are challenged with having to monitor, prioritize and investigate an ever-increasing volume of automated and user-initiated alerts. Keeping pace to resolve issues quickly relies on having the right investigative tools to work efficiently and make better evidence-based decisions.
Many companies rely on AI-driven automation for content moderation and fraud detection. Indeed, AI has become a vital component in managing trust and safety, but many issues still need human intervention. Most systems are not capable of catching all the relevant context to provide a complete picture of an issue or user — so investigators need to step in to gain deeper insight.
For example, automation might incorrectly flag issues with legitimate users, and blocking them arbitrarily could damage good faith and brand integrity. On the flipside, the system could miss coordinated efforts that are systematically targeting a platform or pursuing illegal activity. Look at the Russian disinformation on social media during elections in recent years: Each issue viewed in isolation might have been a divergent opinion, but collectively, the content could have represented a global geopolitical information war.
Protecting social media communities and online services often requires trust and safety analysts to venture off-platform and scratch below the surface to collect evidence. Let’s take a look at some best practice tools for getting the job done.
With countless information sources across the surface, deep and dark web, investigators need to zero in on the most useful pieces relevant for their casework. A great starting point is the OSINT Framework, which indexes numerous URLs, suggests helpful services and recommends where to look next when conducting an investigation.
To speed up research and data collection, here are some other valuable OSINT (i.e., open source intelligence gathering) tools:
Best practice tradecraft is more than just finding great resources for collecting evidence. Investigations can be risky business. If trust and safety analysts need to research and engage in environments like hate group forums or illegal marketplaces, it’s critical to ensure their work can never be traced back to the analyst or their organization.
Anonymity is key — and many investigators are more exposed than they realize. Even with private browsing and VPNs, websites and browsers use numerous hidden ways to track a user’s digital fingerprint. To shield investigations from risk, analysts need more secure — and flexible — ways to control how their online presence appears. That’s where a managed attribution service makes a powerful difference.
Managed attribution minimizes the risk of being tracked, identified and targeted with retaliation. Investigators can customize their online identity to appear as if they’re using any chosen device and browser, accessing from a specific local region and time zone with the appropriate language and keyboard settings.
This approach not only ensures more secure tradecraft, it increases efficiency and effectiveness of research. With a locally customized identity, analysts can eliminate geoblocking and misinformation often encountered when accessing foreign sites. To increase the likelihood of appearing like a local, check out StatCounter, which provides data on the most popular browser, OS and device type used in a given region or country.
Effective OSINT tools enable better research, and they also help improve outcomes by alleviating stress on analysts. Extensive investigations into harmful or explicit content and interactions can be draining. Having more efficient workflows can reduce both strain and the likelihood of mistakes. Ultimately, the ability to conduct better investigations leads to better intelligence, which leads to better decisions.
To learn more about the power of managed attribution for trust and safety casework, download our white paper.
See for yourself how analysts can conduct hyper-secure, anonymous investigations — request a Silo for Research demo.