Trust, Safety and the Digital Economy: Understanding the value of healthy online communities

Ipsos's latest research shows a growing number of UK businesses are realising the benefits of building safe and trustworthy digital environments.

The author(s)

  • Sophie Wilson Public Affairs
  • Michael Clemence Trends & Foresight
  • Jamie Douglas Public Affairs
  • Daany Ajaib Trends & Foresight
  • Kyle Morris Public Affairs
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Building safe and trustworthy digital environments

As digital tools and services become more familiar and better understood, the building blocks of a better internet are becoming more apparent. A healthier digital world has benefits for individuals and society, for example, reducing the spread of hateful content or increasing social and civic participation. But it also has benefits for businesses. The organisations we spoke with recognised the value of online trust and safety for:

  • Growing trust in their brands
  • Cultivating more engaged users and higher levels of retention among both staff and customers
  • Anticipating new and emerging regulatory measures

The importance of online trust and safety to businesses is reflected in the rapid growth of a new specialist profession. In 2021, the number of advertised trust and safety roles across the UK economy almost doubled. The safety tech sector has also become one of the fastest-growing areas of the UK digital economy.

But trust and safety are not confined to just one sector. Our research has identified a wide range of sectors where greater investment in online trust and safety could pay dividends. The six sectors we looked at collectively contribute £243 billion of GVA to the UK economy. Healthier and safer online environments can therefore provide a key driver for economic growth.

The trust and safety sector is still in an early growth stage, but there are opportunities for nurturing the area as it matures, to ensure it grows responsibly, ethically and sustainably.

Sophie Wilson, Research Director said: 

Online trust and safety has never been more important. Our new report Trust, Safety and the Digital Economy shows how businesses are increasingly realising the value of building trustworthy digital environments: in protecting their brands, engaging their staff and supporting their users.

Technical Note 
This research was a collaboration between Ipsos UK, Perspective Economics and Careful Industries. Commissioned by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), it explored the role of trust and safety in the UK digital economy. We conducted a literature review, interviews, labour market analysis and economic mapping. Interviews were conducted by Ipsos UK and Perspective Economics with participants from 26 organisations between September 2021 and January 2022, with two stakeholder workshops in Autumn 2021.

The author(s)

  • Sophie Wilson Public Affairs
  • Michael Clemence Trends & Foresight
  • Jamie Douglas Public Affairs
  • Daany Ajaib Trends & Foresight
  • Kyle Morris Public Affairs

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